If there’s just one thing we really long to see every year it’s the description of new and unknown reef critters and especially corals. The prospect of learning about new and unknown coral species is particularly exciting, especially when the new taxa represent a species of coral from a genus that we are intimately familiar with, alas it’s been many moons since any novel Acropora or Euphyllia have been described.
As we saw in yesterday’s roundup of the Top 10 New Species of reef fish, the counts have been artificially depressed due to the pandemic, the scientists aren’t reaching our hypothetical quotas for them, and this is also true of the tropical marine invertebrates. Even the handful of new species in this list are not entirely new as many of them are previously unrecognized such as the Leo’s new Sexy Shrimp, the new generic reclassification applied to some jumbo trumpet or candy corals definitely makes a lot of sense, and while not new in the slightest the hobby finally learned that the controversial micro ‘Asterina’ starfish have actually been in their own genus, Aquilionastra, since 2006!
While the paper was technically published, the proposed new species of Blastomussa is a very sparse original description – the coral is certainly cool but the authors weren’t really convincing in making the case that the coral they found isn’t simply a unique colony of known Blastomussa, especially with only one type specimen. The only bonafide unquestionably new coral species we were graced by are the seven new species of Sympodium that were finally recognized across a wide swath of the Indo Pacific.
Times have never been tougher for all taxonomists and they certainly did their best but hopefully this means they will return with intense vigor when we can travel like we used to, and we look forward to a bumper crop of new species descriptions of corals, shrimp, and many other invertebrates in the future.