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NURP plays role in Discovery of New Species of Coral
This story entered on 18th Feb, 2005 08:10:19 AM PST

Supported in part by NURP, researchers have identified a new species of black coral, Antipathes dendrochristos. Inhabiting deep rocky banks forty miles from the shores of southern California, A. dendrochristos can grow to seven feet in height and is commonly known as the Christmas Tree Coral, named for its resemblance to a tall white, pink, or red Christmas tree. The discovery has spurred scientists to investigate the role these large invertebrates play in the ecosystem, such as possibly providing critical deep-water habitats for fishes and other marine life. Research findings may be applied toward the management of southern California's reef ecosystems.

Ichthyologists Milton Love of the University of California at Santa Barbara (UCSB) and Mary Yoklavich of NOAA Fisheries first observed the Christmas Tree Coral in 1995, while surveying fish populations. To determine whether they had discovered a new coral species, samples were sent to taxonomists at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory. Examination confirmed that the coral was indeed a newly discovered species and official announcement of the discovery was made in the February 11, 2005 issue of the scientific journal Zootaxa ( Additional information on the subject can be found in a recent UCSB press release (

This project was supported by NURP, NOAA Fisheries Offices of Habitat Conservation and Protected Resources; NOAA Marine Protected Area Science Institute; California Artificial Reef Enhancement Program; the National Museum of Natural History of the Smithsonian Institution; Oak Ridge National Laboratory; and the David and Lucile Packard Foundation.

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Name: Jennifer Reynolds
Tel: (907) 474-5871

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Updated: May 4, 2005