Coral Spawning (05:28)
In the late spring, corals set their biological clocks to the lunar cycle. Paddy Colwell leads tourists on a night dive to witness their reproduction activity. Watch as polyps release egg and sperm bundles for fertilization.
Underwater Group Sex (02:11)
Coral reef species reproduce en masse for protection against predators. Egg and sperm drift on ocean currents and color beaches pink. After five days, baby coral settle to start new colonies.
Capricorn Bunker Group (03:25)
Reefs ground to sand form cay islands. Sea birds are declining globally. Dr. Graham Henson leads park rangers and volunteers in surveying wedge-tailed shearwaters; their nesting behavior includes taking turns incubating eggs.
Nesting Behavior (02:13)
Wedge-tailed shearwaters pair for life and split incubation duties. Dr. Henson discusses conservation efforts on the Capricorn Bunker Group. He encounters a green sea turtle burying her eggs.
Mating Behavior (02:00)
Surgeon fish gather in mass spawning sessions; white tipped sharks attack fertile females.
Holmes Reef (03:26)
Professional fish collector Tim Bennett supplies aquarium fish for Cairns Marine; learn about his collection methods. His son captures a seven foot leopard shark.
Gender Bending Species (02:06)
Studying fish in captivity reveals complex lives. Clown fish are monogamous; if one partner dies the other will change sex as a survival mechanism. Learn about Napoleon wrasse transgender behavior.
Medical Emergency on Agincourt Reef (03:54)
Queensland paramedic Valerie Noble and her helicopter crew rescue a man suffering seizures on a tourist platform.
Deep Water Fish Collection (03:43)
Bennett dives 230 feet to look for rare species. Colors gradually disappear as he descends. Learn about nitrogen narcosis. He ascends at intervals to prevent decompression sickness.
Dugong Conservation Efforts (03:28)
Shallow sea grass beds provide a habitat to many species, including grazing mammals. Russell Butler of Hinchinbrook Island helped to ban net fishing, slowing their decline. He also set up an indigenous ranger group protecting the area.
Hinchinbrook Legend (01:46)
Butler relates a dreamtime story about his ancestors coming from the Great Barrier Reef when the sea level rose 10,000 years ago.
Hinchinbrook Mangroves (03:41)
Crocodiles, snakes and biting insects live in the coastal habitat. Biologist Mark Read monitors ecosystem health and explains their role as a fish nursery. As saltwater crocodiles nest, males become territorial.
Acanthaster Planci Threat (03:52)
Many mangroves and wetlands have been cleared for agriculture. Fertilizer runoff has increased crown-of-thorns starfish populations that feed on coral and are responsible for 40% of their destruction. Outbreaks spread across the reef in 15 years.
Controlling a Coral Predator (02:23)
Professor Morgan Pratchett and his team work to halt a crown-of-thorns outbreak. A poison made from bovine bile seems to be effective in killing the destructive starfish.
Project Manta (05:46)
Eco-resort owner Peter Gash supports reef research. Dr. Kathy Townsend leads a team tracking manta rays. They attach tags to study animals, install listening stations around Lady Elliot Island, and recruit recreational divers to photograph manta underbellies possessing unique identification markings.
Sea Bird Survey Results (03:14)
Dr. Henson's team finishes their study on North West Island. Pisonia trees provide a habitat for black noddies. Their numbers are stable, although wedge-tailed shearwater numbers are reduced. Dr. Henson discusses the Great Barrier Reef's intrinsic value.
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 2 (01:30)
Credits: Life on the Reef: Episode 2
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