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Biologists from Hong Kong Baptist University (HKBU) have discovered in Hong Kong waters three new species of hard coral which have never been identified anywhere else in the world. The findings come shortly after their discovery of one new coral and two new nudibranch species, which was announced last year under their research project on coral health in Hong Kong.
The new marine species were identified by Professor Qiu Jianwen and MPhil student Mr Yiu King-fung of HKBU’s Department of Biology. The descriptions of the new corals have been accepted for publication in the academic journal Zoological Studies.
New species found during coral health research
About eight years ago, Professor Qiu and his team started a series of research projects related to coral health in Hong Kong, including studies on the impact of coral bioeroding sea urchins and coral-eating nudibranchs, as well as coral bleaching caused by global warming. A coral facility was set up at HKBU to culture corals and conduct controlled experiments to examine their physiological changes under different culture conditions. With continuous field surveys and in-depth research, the team has revealed the high diversity of sun corals in Hong Kong waters.
The three new sun coral species discovered this time were named by the HKBU team as Tubastraea dendroida, Tubastraea chloromura and Tubastraea violacea, and they all belong to the genus Tubastraea. The samples were collected when the team surveyed coral-eating nudibranchs at Sung Kong and Waglan Island in the eastern waters of Hong Kong. With the addition of three new members, the number of known species in the Tubastraea genus has increased from seven to ten.
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[Source: HKBU Press Release]