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

February 3, 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: Scientists describe two new gorgonian soft coral species

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

Related Stories

Scientists describe two new gorgonian soft coral species

November 15, 2013

Gorgonians are a type of soft corals easily distinguishable by the complex branching shape, which has also probably inspired their name, coming from the Gorgon Medusa- a creature from the Greek mythology that had hair made ...

Mexican Researcher identifies new species of marine algae

December 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 Hernández Kantun, ...

Coral reef discovered off Greenland

January 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

Study identifies new malaria parasites in wild bonobos

November 21, 2017

Malaria parasites, although widespread among wild chimpanzees and gorillas, have not been detected in bonobos, a chimp cousin. Reasoning that previous studies may have missed infected bonobo populations, a team led by Beatrice ...

The strange case of the scuba-diving fly

November 20, 2017

More than a century ago, American writer Mark Twain observed a curious phenomenon at Mono Lake, just to the east of Yosemite National Park: enormous numbers of small flies would crawl underwater to forage and lay eggs, but ...

0 comments

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.