Newly described stony corals are few and far between but West Africa has been hiding more than that in accessible, relatively shallow water. The new coral Balanopsammia wirtzi is an azooxanthellate stony coral from West Africa which was recently discovered to be distinct from similar species in the family Dendrophyllidae including Balanophyllia and Cladopsammia, enough so to warrant the erection of a new genus.
Balanopsammia wirtzi lives in well flowed intertidal pools and shallow rocky reefs down to a depth of 10m (33 feet). The new Azoox coral has been confirmed growing in a few different regions of the Cape Verde Islands of West Africa including Sao Tiago Island and Sal Island. Colonies of the Balanopsammia are moderately colonial, forming clusters of up to 15 corallites that can have living tissue in pink, reddish and orange.
The taxonomists responsible for describing the new genus and species noted the resemblance between Balanopsammia and related genera but that this particular coral is particularly different in both growth form and habitat. The colonial growth form of B. wirtzi is somewhat distinct with “persistence of fused septa” from juvenile to adulthood being a distinguishing feature.