Smithsonian discovery

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A new species of coral found off Coiba Island

New coral specie, Eugorgia siedenburgae, forms bright pink, bushy colonies with light-colored branch-tips.

New coral specie, Eugorgia siedenburgae, forms bright pink, bushy colonies with light-colored branch-tips.

Hannibal Bank in Panama’s Coiba National Marine Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is known for its amazing marine life. It is a favorite spot for divers and also the site of the discovery of a new specie of coral. Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute (STRI) staff scientist, Hector Guzman, found and collected a “previously undescribed” coral species on his first dive in the area.

The new specie was named Eugorgia siedenburgae in tribute to Joan S. Siedenburg, another explorer and friend of STRI who has inspired many scientists.

The specimen was collected 63 meters (207 feet) under the ocean’s surface using DeepSee a mechanical arm that can be submerged in great depths. Eugorgia siedenburgae forms bright pink, bushy colonies with light-colored branch-tips. This soft-coral grows on rocks, debris, coarse sand or muddy sediments. This seventh species of the genus Eugorgia reported from Costa Rica and Panama brings the total number of species of this eastern Pacific genus to 13.

Guzman hopes to continue his research and conduct more extensive surveys in Hannibal Bank. The expedition was funded by the International Community Foundation; Panama’s Instituto de Investigaciones Cientificas y Servicios de Alta Tecnologia, INDICASAT, Mission Blue’s Sylvia Earle Alliance and the Universidad de Costa Rica.

Policy makers and the media were approached by Guzman who gave a warning about the scarcity of commercial fish in the zone and the importance of maintaining the biodiversity of the area.

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