Most of the larger reef-building coral species spawn once each year. Most species practice “synchronized spawning,” which means that all or most of the corals belonging to a particular species in the local area release their sperm and eggs into the water at the same time. This synchronized behavior maximizes the chances that sperm and eggs will make contact in the water and develop successfully into a coral larva, called a planula. Planulae are tiny, free-swimming plankton that may drift with ocean currents for months before settling on a hard surface where they will begin the process of building a new coral colony.
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