There are two major ways of Coral Reef Reproduction: sexually and asexually. Sexually is carried out through a process called mass spawning. Asexually is done when Coral divide and grow to develop new individuals.
Mass Spawning is a process of coral reproduction when polyps release millions of sperm and eggs in the water. The sperm and eggs float to the top of the water and hopefully escape all predators. The ones that survive create new coral colonies. The process of Mass Spawning greatly increases the chances of fertilization.
time of Occurrence
The Coral Reef Reproduction process of Mass Spawning only occurs one or two nights a year. It can only happen when tides are at their lowest point so that the receding waters may take the fertilized gametes towards other areas of the reef or to entirely different reefs. This is a very rare and spectacular process to witness.
Post Mass Spawning
After the gametes have floated to the surface of the sea, reproduction can begin. In a few days, a planula larva develops and swims to find a proper substrate to live on. The larva will then transform into coral polyps and begin to create a new colony. It is very rare if a larva makes it to this stage in the process. Most larvae are eaten, cannot find a substrate, or killed by hazardous water conditions.
Divide and Grow
A majority of species of coral carry out reproduction asexually. They may do this by splitting their existing colony and forming new ones. Sometimes asexual reproduction happens accidently from environmental disturbances that dislodge coral polyps from one part of the reef and carries them on another part.
The most interesting coral reproduction process is represented when we add both processes together. After the Mass Spawning process has occurred, it often initiates the creation of a coral colony by budding. Budding is an asexually process in which polyps pinch off to form new Coral. This allows polyps to duplicate themselves many times. These duplicates still have the ability to reproduce sexually and continue Coral Reef Reproduction.