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Below are several video clips that show off some of the intriguing animal spawning displays seen within the sanctuary.

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Brittle Stars Spawning

Brittle stars, relatives of sea stars, have long, thin, serpentine arms attached to a central disc. These flexible arms allow brittle stars to move much more quickly than their cousins, but they are also more brittle (hence their name).

Brittle stars also get in on the mass spawning event after the full moon in August at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This video shows male Red Serpent Brittle Stars (Ophioderma squamosissimus) "smoking," or releasing their sperm, into the water through small openings along the sides of their central disks, followed by, a female Ruby Brittle Star (Ophioderma rubicundum) "standing up" on the tips of her arms and releasing tiny, bright red eggs.

Video Length: 1:19

Credit: FGBNMS/Hickerson and Heidi Lydersen

Christmas Tree Worms Spawning
(Spirobranchus giganteus)


In August 2006, sanctuary staff captured the first video of Christmas tree worms spawning. This occurred in the midst of the annual coral spawning event. The Christmas tree worms in this video are located in the middle of a brain coral colony that is also spawning.

Video Length: 0:59

Credit: FGBNMS/Hickerson

Corals Spawning

During the mass coral spawning event in August each year, coral colonies of the Flower Garden Banks release thousands of egg and sperm bundles into the water, creating an underwater snowstorm. For more information about this annual event, please visit our Coral Spawning page.

Video description: A male colony of Great Star Coral (Montastraea cavernosa) releasing smoky, white sperm followed by a close-up view of a female colony of Great Star Coral releasing egg bundles. This is followed by star and brain coral species releasing beebee-like bundles of both egg and sperm in the following sequence: Mountainous Star Coral (Orbicella faveolata) with a red Serpent Brittle Star (Ophioderma squamosissimus) perched on top; Boulder Star Coral (Orbicella franksi); Boulder Star Coral with a Christmas Tree Worm (Spirobranchus giganteus); Mountainous Star Coral; close-up of a star coral (Orbicella sp.); Blushing Star Coral (Stephanocoenia intersepta); Symmetrical Brain Coral (Pseudodiploria strigosa); a Ruby Brittle Star (Ophioderma rubicundum) snaking its way across a colony of star coral with one arm wrapped around a bunch of egg bundles; egg bundles streaming off various colonies of star corals and rising through the water column; a diver disappearing into the darkness behind a "snowstorm" of egg bundles.

Video Length: 2:02

Credit: FGBNMS/Hickerson, Schmahl

Sponges Spawning


Yes, sponges are really animals and they spawn too. However, unlike corals, they usually spawn during daylight hours, although we're still trying to figure out their exact timing. This video shows first a female then a male colony of the giant barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) followed by a male colony of the orange elephant ear sponge (Agelas clathrodes). The females look like snow blowers and the males are smokers.

Video Length: 0:32

Credit: FGBNMS/Hickerson

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Juvenile blue tang (fish).  Bright yellow body with irridescent blue marking around eye and at top edge of dorsal fin.
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