28 Jul 2010

Rare coral find in remote atoll in north Pacific

2:50 pm on 28 July 2010

An Australian scientist who has found what could be the world's rarest coral in the remote North Pacific says the discovery is significant.

The Pacific elkhorn coral was found during underwater surveys at Arno atoll, in the Marshall Islands, by coral researcher Dr Zoe Richards of the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at the James Cook University in Australia.

Dr Richards says it's an astounding discovery as the coral bears a close physical resemblance to the critically endangered and fast-vanishing elkhorn coral, or Acropora Palmata, which is found in the Atlantic.

She says work remains to distinguish just how rare the coral is.

"I'm just hoping to continue to research the identity of this coral. So I'm looking forward to going to Rotuma, which is an island in the South Pacific, where it seems as though back in 1898 there was another population of coral very similar to this one that was discovered. But since then there's been no record of that coral."

Dr Zoe Richards from the James Cook University.