World's most important corals unveiled

Jan 11, 2011
World's most important corals unveiled
Mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis) with popcorn shrimp

Towering furry pillars, glowing tentacles and species that look like human brains are listed among the ten most important coral species in the world.

Led by ZSL scientists, the most evolutionarily distinct and globally endangered (EDGE) tropical have been identified at an international workshop of coral experts in response to over a decade of mass coral bleaching and destruction.

Current worst case predictions suggest that tropical will be functionally extinct within the next 30 -50 years.

EDGE Coral Reefs includes corals that encompass all of the weird and wonderful features of tropical coral species and reflect the rich diversity of an ecosystem often referred to as the ‘rainforests of the oceans’. Saving these species could hold the key to the future adaptation of coral reefs to climate change.

Ten focal species have been prioritised including the pearl bubble coral (Physogyra lichensteini), which is a favoured food source of the hawksbill turtle and the Mushroom coral (Heliofungia actiniformis) that supports at least 15 brightly coloured shrimp including the popcorn shrimp (Periclimenes kororensis).

EDGE Coral Reefs’ species are found in some of the world’s most famous coral reefs, from the Great Barrier Reef to the waters surrounding the Chagos Archipelago. These prehistoric have been around for 400 million years and support one third of all marine life, despite only inhabiting 0.2 per cent of the ocean floor.

Dr. Heather Koldewey, International Marine and Freshwater Conservation Programme Manager for ZSL, says “Corals are one of the most threatened groups of animals on our planet and iconic flagships of the marine environment. EDGE Coral Reefs will focus on improving the resilience of the world’s most diverse coral species, ensuring our coral reefs flourish in the future.”

The EDGE conservation team will now train in-country scientists to carry out vital conservation research on the ten focal species in order to develop a greater understanding of their status and determine the most effective methods for conserving them. These in-country conservationists will form a global network of ambassadors for coral reef conservation, helping to empower and assist local communities in managing reef resources.

Dr. David Obura, Chair of the IUCN Coral Specialist Group, says “The EDGE concept for corals comes at a crucial time. The unique approach of EDGE helps focus effort in places where unusual corals are found, thus helping to protect coral reefs as a whole from increasing impacts of climate change and over- extraction.”

Explore further: Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

More information: EDGE Coral Reefs will be launched at a ZSL Wildlife Conservation event ‘Life on the EDGE' taking place at ZSL, today, Tuesday 11 January, 2010.

Provided by Zoological Society of London

5 /5 (1 vote)
add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Coral reef was untouched by tsunami

Feb 23, 2006

Scientists say they've discovered a large coral reef off Thailand that was apparently undisturbed by the catastrophic December 2004 Indian Ocean tsunami.

Study finds seasonal seas save corals with 'tough love'

Nov 29, 2007

Finally, some good news about the prospects of coral reefs in the age of climate change. According to a new study by the Wildlife Conservation Society, corals may actually survive rising ocean temperatures ...

Recommended for you

Rising anger as Nicaragua canal to break ground

14 hours ago

As a conscripted soldier during the Contra War of the 1980s, Esteban Ruiz used to flee from battles because he didn't want to have to kill anyone. But now, as the 47-year-old farmer prepares to fight for ...

Hopes, fears, doubts surround Cuba's oil future

Dec 20, 2014

One of the most prolific oil and gas basins on the planet sits just off Cuba's northwest coast, and the thaw in relations with the United States is giving rise to hopes that Cuba can now get in on the action.

New challenges for ocean acidification research

Dec 19, 2014

Over the past decade, ocean acidification has received growing recognition not only in the scientific area. Decision-makers, stakeholders, and the general public are becoming increasingly aware of "the other carbon dioxide ...

User comments : 0

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.