While it seems that we’re losing species at an incredible rate (with a 68% decline in the world’s diversity since the 1970s), occasionally, new surprises emerge. Recent work from the Coral Conservation and Research Group in the Indo-Pacific region has uncovered a second species of coral hiding in plain sight.
Plesiastrea peroni, originally described some 200 years ago in 1816, had since become lumped in with plesiastrea versipora, as a single species. However, new gene sequencing has allowed coral ecologists to identify this coral as separate from peroni, greatly enhancing the understanding of the ocean area.
A new species of coral discovered - Plesiastrea peroni
Home, nursery and eatery to a quarter of the ocean’s marine life, coral reefs are crucial to the ocean’s health and form a symbiotic connection with algae and other bacterial forms. The extinction of large tracts of the reef, particularly off the coast of Australia, has had a direct knock-on effect on the diversity and number of fish populations oceanwide.
Finding new species now is crucial to better understanding the complex ecosystem that lives under our waters and how we can protect them from further damage. Not only does it help our understanding of how coral reefs evolve, but it also helps map the spread of reefs, which enables scientists to put greater protection measures in place.
By minimising our use of fertilisers, reducing plastic consumption and energy use, taking eco-friendly modes of transport and reducing stormwater runoff, we can individually contribute to helping save coral reefs.
The biggest change that needs to happen is at a much higher level — reducing carbon emissions and even decreasing the average global temperature.
Source: Science Daily, WWF
About the author - meet Earthan James McCulloch
James is a literary student and environmental enthusiast who likes thinking about the better futures we could have (and those we best avoid). When not playing with other people’s dogs or taking long, mindful walks, he’s usually found reading and writing, often at the local library. You can check him out on his blog for something a little different, where he talks about all things literary or otherwise.