I do a lot of research and planning to document reproductive events.
No matter how well-prepared I am though, failure is more often the result than success.
When Mother Nature frustrates though, she sometimes gives in return, here in the form of a serendipitous encounter on the way back to the boat.
This is a female cushion star (Culcita novaeguineae) spawning teeny-tiny eggs into the water. See the white specks highlighted against the blue? Those comprise half the genetic material for a baby cushion.
The eggs were so small and translucent that I could not see them. Squinting and scrunching didn't help.
That the puffy echinoderm was on top of the reef, elevated in this manner, told me that it might be spawning. I photographed it in hopes of being able to confirm later on the computer. Hurray for minor victories.
One would expect in such circumstances to spot other cushion stars in the vicinity spawning at the same time, but there were none within visual distance. Air low and with everyone else already on the boat, I was unable to do a wider perimeter search.