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Summer Sea Science


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August means vacation for millions of humans, and for coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico, it means the summer birth of billions of new coral organisms. Each year, 7-10 days after August's full moon, coral reefs at the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary create a mass spawning event. The event sends a "snowstorm" of countless sperm and egg bundles into the water. NOAA's Coral Spawning Globe at Howtosmile.org models the spawning event in a snow globe.

The “snow” floats up instead of down, and the scene is a model of a coral reef, complete with Christmas tree worms.

This year, the full moon occurs on Thursday, August 14. To watch and learn more about the spawning event, visit the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary website. Discover more about the sanctuary and its role in coral reef conservation in the documentary Window in the Waves, produced by Louisiana Public Broadcasting and online for a limited time.

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