New Species from Australia’s reefs

Explorers have documented hundreds of spectacular marine species in a survey off the coast of Australia.

Species identified include a ctenophore, or comb jellyfish.

The survey, by researchers from the Museum of Tropical Queensland, is the first systematic inventory of soft corals and the many beautiful creatures living in their surrounding ecosystems.

The four-year census took place at islands off the Great Barrier Reef, and at Ningaloo Reef.

The survey is part of the global Census of Marine Life (CoML), a 10-year project to document life in the world’s oceans.

The research team documented about 300 soft coral species, such as Dendronepthya.

Of these coral species, 130 are new to science.

Corals face threats ranging from ocean acidification, pollution and warming, to overfishing and even predation by starfish.

The team found dozens of small crustacean species, previously unknown to science.

Researchers believe this Pseudocodium, a green seaweed found at Heron Island, is potentially a new species.

Researcher Neil Bruce studies specimens in a lighted aquarium, at Lizard Island on the Great Barrier Reef.

The survey helps mark the International Year of the Reef.

Researchers left behind artificial “dollshouse-like” habitats for animals like the twisted nudibranch to colonise, for collection in years to come.