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New Coral Species From the Pacific – Psammogorgia Hookeri

The year 2014 seems to be the year of new discoveries for the sea world. First it was an anemone, next was cold water corals in the most unexpected regions and now it’s a new species of corals discovered by the researchers from the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) and the University of Costa Rica. This new species from the Peruvian Pacific is one hell of a fiery red brilliance that can excite almost a beginner in the hobby of reef aquarium keeping. It has been given the name of Psammogorgia hookeri in tribute to Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University biologist, Yuri Hooker.

The new species has been named Psammogorgia hookeri in honor of Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University biologist Yuri Hooker, and as stated by the authors of a paper in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, it was spotted by scuba divers at the Paracas National Reserve.

The small colonies of the coral were spotted at depth of around 25 meters and were mainly seen on the rocky ledges. The researchers have stated that their colonies were relatively smaller in comparison to the colonies of the species to which they bear resemblance. There have been reports claiming that tiny broken pieces of this coral were found attached to the mussels from Peru’s Independence Bay that was spotted at a nearby fish market.

The authors of the discovery wrote that the new species was morphologically studied using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. Along with the much notable smaller size of the coral, they also noted another difference. The coral was different from other members of its genus owing to the presence of prominent calyces with broad lips around polyp apertures and without a special type of sclerites, but with a concentration of jagged, spiky spindles and wart-clubs around the calyx rim.

This species is also said to have coenenchymal sclerites that do not reach more than 0.2 mm long and prominent star-like radiates. The results of these add to the affluence of the species within a genus that has not been studied for quite a long time, and also contribute to the founding of features for additional morphological studies. The new species also bestows some importance to the protected regions and to the octocoral biodiversity records for the area.

Odalisca Breedy of the University of Costa Rica served is the lead author of the study, and was assisted by STRI marine biologist Hector Guzman. Together, they have digged out more or less two dozen new types of soft coral in the Pacific, and are hence said to be connoisseurs in its ecology and taxonomy. Guzman said that this new species may be found nowhere else in the world. Coral reefs and coral communities in Peru have never been analytically studied by the duo and they are expecting more new surprises as they examine the new collections.

Hooker said that with logistical support from the Peruvian National Protected Areas Service, they hav only begun discovering the amazing biodiversity of corals and marine invertebrates in the Peruvian Pacif and it is generally a matter of looking in the right spots and bringing in connoisseurs who can recognize these comparatively unidentified and genuine species. This species has definitely given an edge to the not so popular region of the Peruvian Pacific.