2015 was a record-setting year for new species of corals, not in terms of the number of new descriptions, but in sheer biological extremes and new discoveries. There were far more new species of reef fish described in 2015, but the small quantity of new corals we were introduced to this year made up for it with lots of accolades of their own.
A new deep water gorgonian was discovered to be one of the oldest living animals in the world, a Psammocora was described which is one of the deepest known reef building stony corals capable of photosynthesis, and the curious Nanipora joins a rare breed of octocorals that actually builds a skeleton.
With all of the concern over dying corals, coral bleaching, and various ways that the sun is setting on the future of coral reefs, it’s a pity that there aren’t more people, divers, and scientists actually surveying for new species of corals. Meanwhile you have authors like Allen and Erdmann discovering new species of reef like they’re collecting trading cards.
Perhaps the paucity of new coral species description is due to their more complicated phylogeny, the complex state of stony coral taxonomy and the fluidity of coral species in general. However we know that there’s still a lot of undocumented species of stony corals in the oceans of the world, and we look forward to next year’s roundup of new coral species that will be described.