Leptastrea gibbosa and L. magaloni are two new species of stony corals that were recently described from this widespread group. We’ll be the first to admit, that despite having ‘an eye for coral’ identification, the Leptastrea are a very challenging group, but we hope to learn a little bit about what makes the species unique through the description of these two new Scleractinia.
The two newly recognized species of encrusting, semi massive stony corals are from very different far flung regions of the world, with one from the southwest Indian Ocean and the other from the heart of the Great Barrier Reef, Eastern Australia. This is in stark contrast to the most widespread species Leptastrea transversa and L. purpurea which have a distribution ranging from East Africa, across the Coral Triangle to the Central Pacific Ocean.
Leptastrea gibbosa, pictured in the header image, is known from Eastern Papua New Guinea, New Caledonia and Australia but has been confused with other species in various parts of the world. This species is named for the latin word meaning ‘humped’ to describe the protruding corallites that give colonies an uneven looking appearance.
Leptastrea magaloni was identified from type material collected in far western Indian Ocean in Madagascar and Mayotte, and looks very similar to common Leptastrea species. L. magaloni is distinctive in having “typically protruding, more rounded and uniformly sized corallites” but also has polyps that are usually extended in the day time making them look more furry than other species.
The two new species are described by Arrigoni et. al in the latest edition of Coral Reefs.