Ultra-rare elkhorn coral discovered in Australia
Analysis shows it to be different from Atlantic elkhorn
A James Cook University scientist has discovered what could be the world's rarest coral, more than 16 feet across and nearly six feet high with branches like elk's antlers. The unique Pacific elkhorn coral was found during an underwater survey of the Arno atoll in the Marshall Islands, in the northern Pacific Ocean.
The coral bears a close physical resemblance to the critically endangered elkhorn coral of the Atlantic Ocean, although a genetic analysis has shown it to be a different species to the Atlantic elkhorn.
LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The discovery was made by coral researcher Dr. Zoe Richards of the ARC Center of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies.
"When I first saw it, I was absolutely stunned. The huge colonies - five meters across and nearly two meters high with branches like an elk's antlers - were like nothing I'd seen before in the Pacific Ocean," Richards said in a statement.
"So far I have only found this new population of coral to occur along a small stretch of reef at a single atoll in the Marshalls group.
"It grows in relatively shallow water along the exposed reef front and, so far, fewer than 200 colonies are known from that small area," Richards says.
The coral bears a close physical resemblance to the critically endangered elkhorn coral of the Atlantic Ocean, although a genetic analysis has shown it to be a different species to the Atlantic elkhorn. The subject is open to scientific debate.
A similar coral was found near Fiji in the last century, although that discovery doesn't compare to the new find.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
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