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Cambodian Waters Come Alive with Rare Coral Spawning Event

Phnom Penh, March 25, 2024 – For the first time, Cambodia has witnessed a synchronized mass spawning of coral reefs, signaling robust health and resilience amidst environmental challenges. This significant occurrence, reported by Fauna & Flora International in a recent news release, underscores the vibrant life sustaining Cambodia's marine ecosystems.

During the first week of March, the phenomenon was observed by the Fauna & Flora Cambodia team in collaboration with local partners, including the Fisheries Administration and Ministry of Environment of Cambodia, the Song Saa Foundation, and Bubbles Up! Dive Centre, with expert advice from Dr. Rahul Mehrotra and the Aow Thai Marine Ecology Centre.

Coral spawning, a critical reproductive process where coral colonies simultaneously release eggs and sperm into the ocean, typically occurs annually. This event's timing and duration, which can range from minutes to over an hour, are crucial for the successful propagation of coral species and provide key insights into the health of coral ecosystems.

The occurrence of a mass spawning event is a positive indicator of a coral reef's health, suggesting that Cambodian corals have not been severely impacted by stressors like climate change, which can hinder reproduction. Cambodia's coral reefs, characterized by high sedimentation and temperature fluctuations between seasons, could serve as vital reservoirs for heat-resistant coral genotypes, benefiting reef restoration efforts throughout the Gulf of Thailand.

Matt Glue, Fauna & Flora’s Marine Technical Specialist in Cambodia, expressed excitement over the event, highlighting the importance of coral reefs for marine biodiversity, tourism, and fisheries. The observations from this spawning will enrich understanding of coral reproduction patterns in the region.

Chantha Chroeng, a Marine Species & Ecosystems Officer at Fauna & Flora, likened the mass spawning to a slow-motion snowfall under the sea, a spectacle of nature's beauty. Anne Groeneveld of Bubbles Up! Likened the experience to being part of a nature documentary, emphasizing the rarity and wonder of the event.

Sorn Srenh, Deputy Chief of Koh Sdach Commune, reflected on the profound impact of witnessing coral spawning, viewing it as a testament to the thriving marine environment that supports coral growth.

In response to this discovery, Fauna & Flora, alongside the Cambodian government and local NGOs, is intensifying efforts to safeguard marine and coastal ecosystems. Supported by the Blue Action Fund and Fondation Prince Albert II de Monaco, their initiatives include biodiversity research, the development of marine protected areas, and mangrove restoration, coupled with community engagement to promote sustainable conservation practices.

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