S.E.X on the Great Barrier Reef

S.E.X on the Great Barrier Reef

The Great Barrier Reef is full of wonders!

My first experience with the Great Barrier Reef was when I was 15 years old. I grew up in a small country town where at school you were encouraged to become a doctor, an athlete, or a farmer. There was never any mention of the amazing adventures and possibilities the ocean held!

At 15 my family and I were on a cruise ship that stopped in The Whitsundays. This is when my love for the ocean began. I went scuba diving for the first time, and the underwater world completely captured me.

From that moment and still to this day, I continue to be completely amazed by it and of all the jaw-dropping characteristics of the reef, none impress me more than the stories of SEX on the reef.

So, I thought I would shed some light on some animal love stories.

Did you know that male seahorse gives birth to their young? (I have recently had a bub myself, so RESPECT to those male seahorses because they give birth to as many as 2,000 babies at a time!)

Anglerfish – these prehistoric-looking fish live at least 2,000m down in the deep depths of the ocean where it is pitch black. Female Anglerfish are much larger than males who are only 3cm. The males will bite and latch onto the female’s body where he will slowly breakdown leaving only his gonads dangling on the female’s body. From here, the female will absorb the gonads, and this is how she fertilises her eggs! Lucky it is dark down there!

Dolphins are the only animals in the ocean who have sex for fun!

Sea stars are asexual and do not require a partner to do the deed. They are a part of the Echinoderms family which means “spiky skin”.   Did you know that sea stars can also lose a leg and grow it back?  The leg that has been lost can then grow a whole new sea star!  They can also fully split in half and create a clone!

Sharks are my favourite! An absolutely amazing animal!   Some species of sharks lay eggs, whilst other species give birth to live young, and in the womb, the baby sharks may eat each other until there is just one left!  Now, how sharks actually do “the deed” makes me glad I am not a female shark. The males bite the female just behind their pectoral fins (these are the fins on the side of their bodies) and hold on to the female the entire time during the mating process which leaves the females wounded. This is one way to distinguish a female shark from a male – you can see the battle scars on the female’s body.   In other news, male sharks have 2 claspers (that is the technical name for the “you know what”), now that is a double whammy!

Photo credit: @johnny_gaskell

Nudibranch is Latin for “naked gills”. Nudibranchs’ lungs are outside their body, and these little slugs have both male and female parts. When two nudibranchs meet, they have a sword fight to determine who is to be the male (the winner) and who is to be the female. Once the deed is done, the males “sword” falls off!! Growing another one to fight another day.

Photo credit: @johnny_gaskell

Turtles – the act of love for turtles is a very slow one – it can take several hours!  Afterwards, the male will try to hang onto the female’s shell to prevent other males from mating with her. Several males will compete for the same female, aggressively biting at the male’s tail and fins in an attempt to have him to let the female go. Whilst mating, the males will either nod their head, squeal, or grunt!

These are just a few fun facts about love on the reef.

The Great Barrier Reef is one of the most diverse places on earth for plant and animal species, it never ceases to amaze what happens below the surface! And to think… humans have only explored, researched, and began to understand 5% of the world’s oceans – imagine the mind-boggling things we will continue to discover!

Tourism Whitsundays acknowledges that we work, live and play on Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander land.  We pay our respects to Elders past, present and future.