Smithsonian reports fiery-red coral species discovered in the Peruvian Pacific

Feb 03, 2014
A new coral species, Psammogorgia hookeri, has been collected by scuba divers from rocky ledges at depths to 25 meters in Peru's Paracas National Reserve. Credit: Yuri Hooker

A new coral species, Psammogorgia hookeri, has been collected by scuba divers from rocky ledges at depths to 25 meters in Peru's Paracas National Reserve. The corals' hand-sized colonies are slightly smaller than the colonies of their closest relative. Costa Rican researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Costa Rica have named the coral for Yuri Hooker, biologist and naturalist at the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University in Lima, Peru. Researchers also found bits of coral attached to mussels from Independence Bay at a local fish market.

"This new may be found nowhere else in the world," said Hector Guzman, marine biologist at STRI. "But and communities in Peru have never been systematically studied. We expect more surprises as we look at new collections."

Odalisca Breedy, lead author of the new species report in the Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK, and Guzmán are experts in soft coral taxonomy and ecology. To date, they have discovered nearly 25 new species of soft coral in the Pacific. This new species was identified based on colony characteristics and examinations of the coral using both light and scanning-electron microscopy. Breedy and Guzman compared the new samples with specimens at Peru's Ocean Institute, IMARPE and at the Yale Peabody Museum of Natural History. Most of the museum specimens were more than 90 years old because no one has collected in this area in recent times.

"With logistical support from the Peruvian National Protected Areas Service, we're beginning to discover the amazing biodiversity of corals and marine invertebrates in the Peruvian Pacific," said Hooker. "It's mostly a matter of looking in the right places and inviting experts who can identify these relatively unknown and unstudied creatures."

Costa Rican researchers at the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute and the University of Costa Rica have named the coral for Yuri Hooker, biologist and naturalist at the Cayetano Heredia Peruvian University in Lima, Peru. Credit: Yuri Hooker

This underscores the importance of Peru's still largely unexplored marine protected areas.

Explore further: Study shows even newly hatched chicks have a left to right number space map (w/ Video)

More information: Breedy, O. and Guzmán, H.M. 2014. A new species of alcyonacean octocoral from the Peruvian zoogeographic region. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the UK. DOI: 10.1017/S0025315413001835

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Mexican Researcher identifies new species of marine algae

Dec 31, 2013

The species historically cited as the most abundant of coral algae that forms rodoliths at the Gulf of California in Mexico is in reality a compound of five different species. This finding was made by Jazmín ...

Coral reef discovered off Greenland

Jan 28, 2014

By sheer coincidence, Canadian researchers have discovered a reef of living cold-water corals in southern Greenland. PhD student Helle Jørgensbye from DTU in Denmark has been investigating the reef further

Recommended for you

Baleen whales hear through their bones

Jan 29, 2015

Understanding how baleen whales hear has posed a great mystery to marine mammal researchers. New research by San Diego State University biologist Ted W. Cranford and University of California, San Diego engineer ...

Starving honey bees lose self-control

Jan 29, 2015

A study in the journal of the Royal Society Biology Letters has found that starving bees lose their self-control and act impulsively, choosing small immediate rewards over waiting for larger rewards.

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.