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New Coral Species Ctenactis Triangularis From Andaman Islands, India

By the end of 2013 we have a unique and new species of coral recently described. A new species of scleractinian coral Ctenactis triangularis in the family Fungiidae has been described from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. This species has a triangular arm shaped corallum with the mouth extending along all three arms. Septal dentition is long, cylindrical, equally sized and closely arranged.

Numerous pits on the costae and costal spines are spinulose. Ctenactis triangularis has an affinity with three species namely, Ctenactis echinata, Ctenactis crassa, and Ctenactis albitentaculata, thus the morphological features have been compared with these three species. The new species which belongs to the family of mushroom corals, adds a fourth member to the Ctenactis genus of corals.

“The first specimen of the species was collected from Rutland Island from South Andaman by snorkeling and skin-diving”, said the scientists. Later another specimen of the same coral was observed at the North Bay in South Andaman in December 2008. Researchers were able to spot the same species again after two years, in 2010, off the coast of Elephant Beach in Havelock Island. Tamal Mondal and C. Raghunathan , scientists at the Andaman and Nicobar Regional Centre of Zoological Survey of India situated at Port Blair have reported and described the identity of the new species.

It differs from the other three species from having a triangular flat-shaped corallum, divisible mouth fossa, spinulose costal spines and cylindrical septal teeth. The species has been named after the triangle-shaped arm like coralla, which gives a unique morphological character to distinguish it from other related species.

Characteristic features

• Triangular arm like corallum, oval-elongate mushroom corals, monostomatous (usually with a single, large mouth)
• The mouth is divisible in three extensions and extends in each arm of the coralla.
• Oral surface is humped and convex around the mouth.
• Septa straight or sinuous, the terminal ends of the coralla are regularly rounded.
• The septa are thick and equal in size with large, strong dentition on the margin.
• The septal teeth are echinulate in structure.
• Costae are well developed with large, cylindrical spines.
• The spinulose are present on the top and side walls of the spine.
• Pits are present throughout the costae.


Coral reefs are very important marine organisms, and play a vital role in enriching marine biodiversity. Threats, which can be categorized as natural and anthropogenic, to the reef biodiversity, have been encountered for a long time. As survival of the coral reef environment means a lot for the sustainable development of a whole lot of marine biota, conservation action plans have been taken for consideration globally, to give them protection against anthropogenic degradation. Scleractinian corals were included under CITES Appendix II. Not only that, scleractinians were included as Schedule-I species under Indian Wildlife (Protection) Act, 1972 to make sure that proper protection as well conservatory measures are ensured for the future generation.