Sun, Apr 28, 2019 - Page 2 News List

Oceanographer discovers seven new species of coral

By Tsai Tsung-hsien and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

A coral colony in the sea off Pingtung County’s Hengchun Peninsula is shown in an undated photograph.

Photo: courtesy of the Kenting National Park Administration

Oceanographer Dai Chang-feng (戴昌鳳) has over the past three years discovered seven endemic species of octocorallia around the Hengchun Peninsula (恆春半島) and has named them after nearby locations in an attempt to focus international attention on the area.

A professor at National Taiwan University, Dai was commissioned three years ago by the Kenting National Park Administration Office to survey corals around the peninsula.

Focusing on octocorallia, a subclass of marine invertebrates called anthozoa, Dai systematically analyzed specimens in the area and categorized, based on size and genetic sequencing, 212 different types.

Dai on Friday said that he had named most of the new corals he found after locations, including Pingtung County’s Kenting (墾丁), Nanwan (南灣), Shadao (砂島) and Hengchun Township (恆春).

The one exception was a coral named after a foreign academic who helped identify it, Dai said.

Kenting National Park’s conservation division said that when the national park was established, it only recorded about 60 types of octocorallia, largely due to personnel constraints and a lack of knowledge and technique.

The park has since 2017 conducted new surveys across the area, the division said.

Of the 212 types of coral found near Hengchung, 147 were endemic to the area, it said.

This knowledge would go a long way in aiding research of coral and related life forms, the division added.

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