Posted by: reefrescue | August 10, 2010

World’s ‘rarest’ coral found

An Australian scientist has discovered what could be the world’s rarest coral in the remote North Pacific Ocean.

The unique Pacific elkhorn coral was found while conducting underwater surveys of Arno atoll in the Marshall Islands, by coral researcher Dr Zoe Richards of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies (CoECRS) and James Cook University.

The coral bears a close physical resemblance to the critically endangered and fast-vanishing elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) of the Atlantic Ocean, but genetic analysis has shown it to be a different species.

“When I first saw it, I was absolutely stunned. The huge colonies – five metres across and nearly two metres high with branches like an elk’s antlers – were like nothing I’d seen before in the Pacific Ocean,” Dr Richards said.

“So far I have only found this new population of coral to occur along a small stretch of reef at a single atoll in the Marshalls group,” she said. “It grows in relatively shallow water along the exposed reef front and, so far, fewer than 200 colonies are known from that small area.”

“The Pacific elkhorn coral has regular divergent blade-like branches that radiate out from single or multiple large central stalks. Its colonies are by far the largest of all the Acropora colonies observed at Arno Atoll, indicating that these are relatively old,” she adds.

Read more: http://www.jcu.edu.au/staff/JCUPRD1_059722.html

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Responses

  1. Not sure what we call stags head coral is similar found of South African and Mozambique east coast? Quite common in this region but not as big being below 1 meter in diameter.


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