Ningaloo Reef Australia
An impressive population of mushroom corals “Diaseris distorta” was discovered off Western Australia’s Ningaloo Reef. The coral reef at Ningaloo extends over 185 miles (300 km) including shallow lagoons and deeper offshore waters.
Scientists were exploring these diverse habitats using a sonar device when they stumbled upon a steady stream of little brown dots. The team went in for a closer look using remotely operated vehicles and were stunned to find millions of Diaseris corals blanketing the seafloor.
Doctor Russ Babcock from CSIRO said while the mushroom corals had been reported in other areas including the Great Barrier Reef, this appeared to be the largest community of its kind.
“It’s over 1.5miles (2.5 km) long and 328 feet (100 meters) wide and we estimate there are as many as 12 million of these little corals living shoulder-to-shoulder on the reef,” he said.
The corals were found around 130 feet (40 meters) deep, and scientists are describing the conditions as a Goldilocks habitat. The shallow waters of Nigaloo reef are prone to rough conditions, while deeper habitats are more stable, and it is here the Diaseris have found the perfect conditions to prosper.
Diaseris are free-living corals not attached to the seafloor and are able to surf the loose sediments during ebb and flow of waves. If the corals become covered in sand they have a unique ability to inflate their tissue in order to excavate themselves from burial and even to flip themselves over.
One of the reasons this coral is found in such high concentrations is that broken segments of this Diaseris corals are able to regenerate into new corals. In some area of this habitat, there are over 100 corals per square meter.
The original article described these corals and Cycloseris distorta however, this is an outdated description of the species. [ABC News Au]