We’ve seen some Astreopora species exhibit light tubular growth forms in aquariums but it’s nothing compared to Astreopora cenderawasih, a new species described from Cenderawasih Bay in West Papua, Indonesia. Astreopora cenderawasih described by Wallace et. al. exhibits an explicit branching form which is very pronounced, and very atypical from what is described as a “morphologically conservative genus” in the August issue of the Journal of Natural History.
Apparently, Cenderawasih Bay of the Bird’s Head Peninsula is the place to be if you are an Astreopora coral with 11 of the 13 known species being found there, along with three new species including Astreopora cenderawasih, A. acroporina and A. montiporina. The new species with the namesake of the bay, A. cenderawasih is described as having a dendritic growth form and it was found growing in shallow sandy reef flat and upper reef slopes, between six and twenty feet deep (2-6 meters). The colonies of A. cenderawasih seen were mostly pale or dark brown but some were described as “purple grey” and you know what that means – a potential for some interesting color responses from exposure to blue light.
Carden C. Wallace, Emre Turak & Lyndon DeVantier (2011): Novel characters in a conservative coral genus: three new species of Astreopora (Scleractinia: Acroporidae) from West Papua, Journal of Natural History, 45:31-32, 1905-1924