The reef aquarium hobby has come such a long way in the last 15 years. During that time we’ve mastered the husbandry and propagation of hundreds of coral species, nearly as many reef fish, and we know more about the ocean environment and the sea creatures that live there than I ever thought possible.
However there’s a huge black hole in our knowledge of corals from the Caribbean, both hard and soft. Since there’s been a ban on stony coral imports or harvest of any kind from reefs in the western atlantic, the aquarium hobby knows a thousand times more about the corals that grow on the opposite side of the world than the ones that grow around the shores of the United States and the Caribbean.
Besides flower anemones, st. thomas shrooms & Florida ricordea, the reef aquarium hobby is nearly devoid of Caribbean corals, which means we don’t know what they are, or why they are special in their own way. For me, the fact that we can’t obtain them and study these coral species in captivity has only sparked my curiosity to learn more about them, as diving to their natural environments is the only way to appreciate them.
Thankfully our co-editor Nicole Helgason spent a lot of time diving in Honduras this year where she gathered a veritable atlas of Caribbean corals, both hard and soft. These images have now been organized into some introductory guides to the identification of soft and stony corals on the popular dive blog, Scuba Diver Life, a further effort to bridge the gap between the aquarium and diving communities.
So take a moment to educate yourself about the unique corals that live closest to us American reefers because we can’t learn everything about corals from what you see in an aquarium or at the fish store.