In a rare occurrence, last year the corals on the Great Barrier Reef spawned in both November and December.

This unexpected double spawning gave researchers from the Australian Institute of Marine Science and James Cook University the opportunity to collect sperm samples from 7 coral species, including Acropora hyacinthus, Favia favus, Pachyseris speciosa, Montipora spumosa, and Acropora tenuis.

DNA will be extracted from these samples and the genome for these coral species will be sequenced for the world-first ReFuGe2020 Sea-quence project. This project is sequencing the genomes of 10 coral species across 6 different coral types.

Coral sperm is required for genome sequencing so that DNA can be extracted and isolated. To ensure samples for a single species are collected, scientists isolate coral colonies in tanks.

Coral spawning events have been likened to watching champagne bubbles or an underwater snowstorm, as eggs and sperm are released en mass into the water column.