There’s something utterly surreal about being in Fiji as we write this, not at the final destination, but having a layover to even more exotic corals and genera coral reef diversity. We are headed to Honiara, Solomon Islands with a small team to go explore the reefs in this corner of the Coral Triangle, and hopefully uncover the same kind of ‘overlooked’ corals that we documented while in Kwajalein Atoll last year.
In addition to doing lots of diving, we are going to be taking lots of pictures and really aiming to come across some really noteworthy corals that the Solomon Islands were first to make available to the diehard reefers of the late nineties. The holy grail corals we’re targeting at the top of the list are the fabled Purple Monster and Oregon Tort, two corals that were imported from this part of the world.
We still remember receiving one of the first orders of farmed coral frags from Bob Mankin’s Coral Farm way back in the day and it was the first time we saw really colorful SPS corals, like Montipora with colored polyps, a coral we describe as the ‘OG Horrida’ that is raspberry pink throughout, not blueish purple or green like the ones we see infrequently from Australia. Of course we won’t be overlooking the cool regionally endemic reef fish like the greytailed angelfish, Chaetodontoplus poliourus, Cirrhilabrus wallindi, and definitely want to see the locally abundant white bonnet anemonefish, Amphiprion leucokranos.
With another decade and a half of coral keeping under our belt, and becoming even more familiar with the entire family tree of soft and stony corals, you can be sure that we’ll be keeping a keen eye out for the weirdo corals like Stylocoeniella, Leptoseris and especially one coral that is particularly well-represented in the Solomon Islands, Australogyra zelli, the branching moon coral. There’s no way to tell how much connectivity we’ll be able to partake in the Solomon Islands but stay tuned because one way or another, there’s a whole lotta coral hotness and reefing hotness coming to Reef Builders very soon.