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Marine Biodiversity Records, page 1 of 11. # Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom, 2011 doi:10.1017/S1755267211000066; Vol. 4; e16; 2011 Published online

Octocoral diversity and distribution on the south-west Indian coast anita g. mary1, robert d. sluka2 and s. lazarus3 1

Marine Scientist, HMR Consultants, PO Box 1295, CPO Seeb, PCIII, Sultanate of Oman, 2Marine Conservation Consultant, Chinnor, Oxfordshire, UK, 3Chairman, Institute for Environmental Research and Social Education, Kanyakumari District, Tamil Nadu, India

A survey of the distribution, percentage coverage, and diversity of octocoral fauna on the south-west coast of India yielded fourteen species from six families: Clavulariidae, Nephtheidae, Melithaeidae, Plexauridae, Gorgoniidae and Ellisellidae. This study produced ten new zoogeographical records of octocoral species to India, two species which were first records to the shallow water fauna (11 –12 m depth), and one found to be a potential new record to the Indian coast. Octocoral coverage was ,1% at all sites and diversity ranged from 6 –13 species among the five study sites.

Keywords: Cnidaria, Octocorallia, Alcyonacea, octocorals, south-west India, Indian Ocean, Indian coast, new records Submitted 21 July 2010; accepted 5 December 2010

INTRODUCTION

Octocorals (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea) are vital components of shallow water and reef environments throughout the tropics including the seas of the Indian sub-continent (Fabricius & Alderslade, 2001). India, despite its vast coastline extending over 8129 km and subtropical climatic conditions, has very few coral reef areas (Rajasuriya et al., 2000; Ayyappan & Krishnan, 2004). The Indian coast has two widely separated areas containing reefs: the Gulf of Kutch in the north-west and Palk Bay and Gulf of Mannar with numerous fringing reefs around small islands in the south-east (Kelleher et al., 1995; Muley et al., 2000). The west coast of India between Mumbai (formerly Bombay) and Goa is reported to have submerged banks with isolated coral formations (Nair & Qasim, 1978). Offshore of Goa and Karnataka States several islands have high coral cover (Sluka & Lazarus, 2009). Important offshore island groups of India with extensive reef growth include the Andaman and Nicobar Islands in the Bay of Bengal and the Lakshadweep Islands in the Arabian Sea (Rajasuriya et al., 2000). The absence of reef along the continental coastline in the Bay of Bengal is attributed to the immense quantity of freshwater and silt brought by the rivers (Seawell, 1932; Islam, 2003). Other disincentives to reef growth include heavy monsoonal rains and high human inhabitation on the coastline. The threats to octocoral health and damage to near shore reefs include sedimentation, dredging, coral mining and use of explosives and bottom-set nets for fishing (Rajasuriya et al., 2000; authors’ personal observations). In the last decade, knowledge of the taxonomy and ecology of soft corals, especially from shallow tropical reefs in the Indo-Pacific region has increased (Chanmethakul et al., 2010).

Corresponding author: A.G. Mary Email: marineani@rediffmail.com

Gorgonian octocorals in spite of their cosmopolitan distribution have not been studied extensively in the Indo-West Pacific region (Goh & Chou, 1996). The octocoral fauna of the Indian Ocean at present is known from stray reports: Lakshadweep (Hickson, 1903, 1905; Pratt 1903, 1905; Ofwegen & Vennam, 1991); Maldives and Mascarene Archipelago (Hickson, 1903, 1905, 1930; Pratt, 1903; Faure, 1977); Seychelles (Verseveldt, 1976); Madagascar (Tixier-Durivault, 1966; Verseveldt, 1968, 1970, 1971); Tanzania (Ofwegen & Benayahu, 1992); and the material collected by the ‘Investigator’ (Thomson & Henderson, 1906; Thomson & Simpson, 1909), mostly from Andamans, Ceylon, Ganjam coast, Arakan coast, Coramandel coast, Persian Gulf and Indian coast (Thomas & Rani, 1986, 1987; Mary 1998; Mary et al., 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004). Identification of Indian octocorals collected by the ‘Investigator’ (Thomson & Henderson, 1906; Thomson & Simpson, 1909) is greatly hampered by the inaccessibility of the material in the Calcutta Museum. Octocorals of Mauritius and Andaman and Nicobar Islands were reported by Vennam & Parulekar (1994) and Vennam et al. (1996). A comprehensive list of other less extensive taxonomic papers describing species found in the western Indian region can be found in Bayer (1961). Ofwegen (1987) described species of the family Melithaeidae from the Indian Ocean and the Malay Archipelago, and reviewed Wrightella coccinea from the Maldives (Ofwegen, 1989). In addition to Thomson & Simpson’s (1909) collection of four species of Gorgonacea (Anthozoa: Melithaeidae) from Laccadives, three species of Gorgonacea and 19 species of Alcyonacea were described by Ofwegen & Vennam (1991) and 17 by Alderslade & Shirwaiker (1991) from the same region. From the Indian Ocean, five new species of Dendronephthya (Verseveldt & Ofwegen, 1991) and a new genus, Pseudothelogorgia, were reported (Ofwegen, 1994). Additionally, a new species of Pseudopterogorgia was described by Williams & Vennam (2001). Octocorals of the south-west Indian Ocean (South Africa–Mozambique) were studied by Benayahu & Schleyer (1995, 1996) and Ofwegen & Schleyer (1997). 1


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Taxonomic knowledge of octocorals is far from adequate in the Indian seas and confusion in the literature still exists because of meagre knowledge involving variability. Additionally, many authors have described separate taxa for intraspecific variants (Williams, 1997). The inshore areas of the present study between Kanyakumari in Tamil Nadu State and Vizhinjam in Kerala State have many rocky outcrops which provide substratum for a variety of benthic organisms including soft corals, gorgonids, hard corals, sponges, mussels and algae (Mary, 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004; Sluka & Lazarus, 2009). Previous studies from the south-east coast were conducted of exported (Thomas & Rani, 1986, 1987), entangled in fishing nets (Mary & Lazarus, 2004) and stranded materials on beaches (Mary, 1998). This study reports for the first time on in situ collected specimens from the south-west Indian coast. The present study reports the total octocoral diversity, percentage coverage and diversity by site.

MATERIALS AND METHODS

Collections were made during January to March, 2002 from 5 stations in Tamil Nadu (Muttom (MUT), Kadiapattanam (KAD), Colachel (COL) and Enayam (ENY)) and Kerala regions (Vizhinjam (VIH)) of the south-west coast of India (Figure 1). All survey locations were shallow, rocky and nearshore (Figure 2A, B). The specimens were collected using SCUBA at a depth-range of 3–27 m. Specific depth-ranges for the species collected have been given along with photographs taken in situ and ex situ to differentiate morphologically similar species and to show the variety of colour morphs. Descriptive notes on colony morphology, colour

Fig. 1. Study sites along the south-west Indian coast.

and sclerite structures (sufficient to differentiate species found here) are provided for indeterminate species. The collected specimens are preserved in 70% ethanol, except Acabaria which is air-dried. Specimens were identified using morphological characteristics of the colonies and sclerites following Bayer (1981) and Bayer et al. (1983). Sclerites were obtained by dissolving the organic tissues with 10% hypochlorite and were then examined under a compound microscope. The classification and terminology of the taxa were based on Fabricius & Alderslade (2001). Major taxonomic revisions are necessary for many families found on the south-west and south-east coasts of India, and accordingly many specimens could not be identified to the species level. All specimens reported are deposited at the Northern Territory Museum (NTM) of Arts and Science, Darwin, Australia and still under examination for a detailed systematic study. Line intercept transects were used to calculate the percentage cover of both living and non-living benthos. At each site between four and nine 25 m transects were laid in representative areas of the substrate. One observer (R.D.S.) examined the bottom underneath points at 25 cm intervals along the transect, giving a total of 100 possible points per transect. Some transects contained less than 100 points due to diving related problems or the exclusion of points occupied by mobile invertebrates (mainly crinoids). Percentage cover was calculated as the total number of points for each benthic category divided by the total number of points for that transect (range 85 –100 points, mean points per transect ¼ 99). RESULTS

Fifty-six samples were collected, yielding 14 species from ten genera and six families of which ten are new records to India;


octocorals on the south-west indian coast

Fig. 2. (A) Ex situ dive site of Muttom, south-west Indian coast; (B) in situ dive site of Muttom, south-west Indian coast.

two are new to the shallow (11–12 m) Indian waters and one appears to be a new record to the south-west Indian coast. The present study in the entire south-west regions of Tamil Nadu and Kerala shows that all specimens collected except Junceella juncea proved to be new records for the survey locations. Octocoral coverage at all sites was less than 1%. Muttom was the most diverse site with 12 species followed by Colachel 9, Vizhinjam and Enayam 7 each and Kadiapattanam 6 species. Abundance showed Muttom again dominating with 19 specimens followed by Colachel 11, Enayam 10, Vizhinjam 9 and Kadiapattanam with 7 to its record. SYSTEMATICS Class ANTHOZOA Ehrenberg, 1831 Subclass OCTOCORALLIA Haeckel, 1866 Order ALCYONACEA Verrill, 1865 Family CLAVULARIIDAE Hickson, 1894 Genus Carijoa F. Mu¨ller, 1867 Carijoa sp. (Figure 3A, B, C)

materials examined NTM C14990 (Muttom); 10 specimens (4 MUT, 1 KAD, 2 COL and 1 VIH); depth 10– 16 m.

Fig. 3. (A) Carijoa sp.; (B) Carijoa sp. half dried; (C) Carijoa sp. in situ.

with white or cream polyps. Specimens become completely white when air-dried. Sclerites are slender and rod-like, with small thorns.

habitat Found predominantly in turbid coastal waters along with mussels. Some are found on flat sandy bed.

remarks This genus is a new record to India. Family NEPHTHEIDAE Gray, 1862 Genus Dendronephthya Ku¨kenthal, 1905 Dendronephthya sp. (Figure 4A, B, C)

description The largest specimen is 13.5 cm long with a width of 2.5 cm. The polyps when expanded are 0.2 –0.5 cm long. Colonies are slimy when alive with colours of orange, blue and brown

materials examined NTM C14991 (Enayam); five specimens (2 MUT, 1 COL and 2 ENY); depth 12 m.

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remarks This is a new record from the shallow (12 m) Indian coast whereas the previous records are from a depth of 60–70 m from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. (Thomson & Henderson, 1906; Thomson & Simpson, 1909; Verseveldt & Ofwegen, 1991). Mostly found as solitary colonies on hard bottom. Family MELITHAEIDAE Gray, 1870 Genus Acabaria Gray, 1859 Acabaria variabilis (Hickson, 1905) (Figure 5)

materials examined NTM C14992 (Muttom); three specimens (2 MUT and 1 KAD); depth 11 m.

description Colony dichotomously branched in one plane. Internodes and polyps are cream or white in colour while the swollen nodes are pink/red when alive and retain the same colour when airdried. Sclerites are colourless with mostly leafy clubs in calyx walls; nodes with pink rods and spindles. The specimen is 6 cm tall and 6.5 cm wide.

habitat Found in the crevices of rocks and hangs from below the rocks; rare in wave exposed areas.

remarks This is a new record to the shallow Indian coast while previously recorded at a depth of 55– 60 m from Maldives and Lakshadweep Islands (Ofwegen, 1987). Acabaria variabilis remains a very variable species based on the colour of the colony (Ofwegen, 1987) while coloured nodes are characteristic for some Acabaria (Fabricius & Alderslade, 2001). Acabaria sp. (Figure 6)

material examined NTM C14993 (Colachel); three specimens (2 COL and 1 VIH); depth 14 and 18 m. Fig. 4. (A) Dendronephthya (C) Dendronephthya sp. in situ.

sp.;

(B)

Dendronephthya

sp.

dried;

description Colonies are highly branched and bushy with umbellate branching. The largest specimen is 13.5 cm long and 11.3 cm wide with soft and swollen stalk. When expanded, surface is prickly with sharp spines. Colour of the colonies when alive ranges from dark red to pink and cream with the stalk pale white or cream coloured; polyps white. Sclerites include tuberculate and thorny spindles, needles, many irregularly shaped sclerites and antlers in the internal canal walls.

habitat It is less abundant in the wave-exposed areas of the Indian coast.

Fig. 5. Acabaria variabilis.


octocorals on the south-west indian coast

materials examined NTM C14994 (Muttom); four specimens and bits (2 MUT, 1 COL and 1 ENY); depth 4– 12 m.

description Colony is 4.2 cm high and 4.6 cm wide. Colour dark red with slender whip-like branches, growing in one plane. Branches are thick and intersect at right angles. Polyps are monomorphic and retractile. Sclerites are thorny scales, spindles and thorny stars.

habitat Occurs in both turbid and clear water; commonly found associated with different sponge species; survives well in high sediment water along the south-west Indian coast (Mary & Lazarus, 2004). Fig. 6. Acabaria sp.

description It is dichotomously branched in one plane and the colony is orange in colour that retains after air-drying. Swollen nodes are sparingly distributed. Nodes and internodes show colourless and yellow sclerites; mostly rods in nodes, spindles in polyps and leafy clubs in the calyx walls; size of the colonies ranges from 4.0–4.4 cm length and 2.3 – 2.5 cm width.

habitat

remarks A potential new record to the Indian coast as the radiates and crosses of E. indica (Mary, 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004) recorded from Kanyakumari (40 – 65 km from the present study areas) are absent in this species. It is a common genus found in Lakshadweep Islands (Ofwegen & Vennam, 1991), Andaman and Nicobar Islands (Vennam et al., 1996) and Gulf of Mannar, east coast of India (Thomas & Rani, 1986, 1987). Genus Echinogorgia Ko¨lliker, 1865 Echinogorgia sp. A (Figure 8)

Tiny colonies overhanging below rock cliffs.

remarks

materials examined

This is a new record to India. This species differs from A. variabilis in the presence of yellow sclerites both in the nodes and internodes and with its distinct orange coloured colony. The specific pink/red nodes which are typical of A. variabilis were absent in this species (Ofwegen, 1987).

NTM C 14995 (Vizhinjam); five specimens (1 MUT, 1 KAD and 3 VIH); depth 26 m.

Family PLEXAURIDAE Gray, 1859 Genus Echinomuricea Verrill, 1869 Echinomuricea sp. (Figure 7)

Fig. 7. Echinomuricea sp.

description Colonies grow in one plane with short side branches forming net-like fans. Size ranges from 8.1 –14.1 cm in width and 6.9 – 13 cm in height. Colour of the colony when alive is yellow; when dried, the yellow coloured colonies turn to light brownish shade. Sclerites mostly spindles and thornscales; colour of sclerites dark red or burgundy.

Fig. 8. Echinogorgia sp. A.

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Genus Menella Gray, 1870 Menella sp. A (Figure 10A, B)

materials examined NTM C14997 (Colachel); four specimens (1 each from MUT, KAD, COL and ENY); depth 8 m.

description It has thick whip-like branches from which side branches arise at right angles and curve upwards. Size ranges from 11 –32 cm height and 5.4 –6.5 cm in width. Colour brownish yellow. Sclerites are rooted-leaves and collaret are spindles.

Fig. 9. Echinogorgia sp. B.

habitat habitat It is common in turbid waters and found as individual colonies on hard bottom.

It can survive in fast flowing turbid waters and is found associated with mussels (Figure 10B). Few frondose algae could be seen attached with the species.

remarks This genus is a new record for India.

remarks This is a new record to India.

Menella sp. B (Figure 11A, B)

Echinogorgia sp. B (Figure 9)

materials examined materials examined NTM C14996 (Enayam); three specimens (2 ENY and 1 VIH); depth 14 m.

NTM C15000 (Muttom); two specimens (1 each from MUT and COL); depth 9 m.

description description Purple coloured colonies grow in one plane with short side branches forming net-like fans. Stalk robust; width ranges from 8.1 – 13.5 cm and height 7.9–8.3 cm; sclerites are spindles and thick colourless thornscales that form a complex root structure in the calyx and capstans in axial sheath around axis.

Colonies are of whip like branches; height 13.1 –18.2 cm and width 4.8 –7.2 cm; diameter of branches 0.5 cm; polyps are cream coloured while branches are of burgundy colour; sclerites are mostly rooted leaves, small spindles and capstans.

habitat Found on mussel beds (Figure 11B) and occurs in fast flowing turbid waters.

habitat Tolerant to turbid waters and found associated with sponges and mussels.

remarks This is a new record to India as it differs from Echinogorgia sp. A in the presence of colourless thornscales and capstans.

Fig. 10. (A) Menella sp. A; (B) Menella sp. A in situ.

remarks This is a new record to India. This species differs from Menella sp. A in the presence of small spindles and capstans. Genus Paraplexaura Ku¨kenthal, 1909 Paraplexaura sp. A (Figure 12)


octocorals on the south-west indian coast

habitat Found in murky waters associated with sponges and mussels.

remarks It is a new record to India. Paraplexaura sp. B (Figure 13)

materials examined NTM C14999 (Vizhinjam); two specimens (1 MUT and 1 VIH); depth 18 –24 m.

description Colour of the colony yellow when both alive and preserved; size ranges from 4.2 –5.8 cm height and 2.4 –6.8 cm width. Thickly branched with thick stalk and side branches at right angles; sclerites are thick thornscales, capstans and spindles with tubercles; polyp sclerites are smooth; sclerites are colourless.

habitat Found in murky waters associated with sponges and mussels.

remarks This is a new record to India as it differs from Paraplexaura sp. A in the presence of colourless sclerites. Fig. 11. (A) Menella sp. B; (B) Menella sp. B in situ.

materials examined NTM C14998 (Colachel); three specimens (1 COL and 2 VIH); depth 16 –20 m.

Family GORGONIIDAE Lamouroux, 1812 Pseudopterogorgia sp. Ku¨kenthal, 1919 Pseudopterogorgia sp. (Figure 14)

materials examined description It is richly branched with relatively thick stalk and side branches that curve upwards at right angles. Colour of the colony yellow when both alive and preserved; size ranging from 3.5 –6.4 cm height and 3.3 – 7.6 cm width. Surface of branches contain spindles with tubercles, capstans, and thornscales which are of red colour.

Fig. 12. Paraplexaura sp. A.

NTMC15001 (Muttom); three colonies and some fragments (2 MUT, 1 ENY and fragments KAD); depth 27 m, rocky substratum.

description Colonies are red in colour when alive and preserved; colonies uniformly distributed with pinnate branches and small polyps. Polyp sclerites smooth and tuberculate coenenchymal spindles are colourless. Colony size ranges from 13.6 cm height and 6 cm width.

Fig. 13. Paraplexaura sp. B.

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(0.05 – 0.1 mm) in the subsurface of the cortex. Colour red when alive with black/cream coloured axis.

habitat Common in turbid water; large specimens observed in Colachel in water depth ,5 m; mostly associated with mussels and sponges.

remarks It was reported earlier from the Gulf of Mannar (Thomas & Rani, 1986, 1987) and south-west Indian coast (Mary, 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004).

Fig. 14. Pseudopterogorgia sp.

Genus Verrucella Milne Edwards and Haime, 1857 Verrucella sp. (Figure 16A, B, C)

materials examined habitat Found on hard substratum in turbid waters and few associated with sponges. Seems to tolerate high sedimentation rate and is rare in clear waters (Fabricius & Alderslade, 2001).

NTM C15003 (Muttom), NTM C15004 (Colachel), NTM C15005 (Kadiapattanam); six specimens (2 MUT, 1 each from KAD, COL, ENY and VIH); depth 9–20 m.

description remarks This is a new record to India and needs further study to compare with the previously recorded Pseudopterogorgia fredericki (Williams & Vennam, 2001). Suborder CALCAXONIA Family ELLISELLIDAE Gray, 1859 Genus Junceella Valenciennes, 1955 Junceella juncea (Pallas, 1766) (Figure 15A, B)

Colonies were richly branched forming different network patterns (Figure 16A, B, C); colour of the colonies were orange, red and yellow when alive and retains colour on preservation; height extends from 15 –23.2 cm and width from 21.5– 24.5 cm. Sclerites are mostly of double heads with sharp waists and short spindles.

habitat In the current observation, Verrucella sp. has been found as individual colonies on both sandy and rocky beds; well associated with hard corals, sponges and mussels.

materials examined NTM C15002 (Kadiapattanam); five specimens (1 each from MUT, COL, VIH and 2 KAD; fragments from ENY); depth 19 m.

remarks

description

DISCUSSION

Specimens unbranched and whip-like; height of the specimen collected was up to 159 cm; diameter of the colonies varies from 3.5 – 7 mm; calyces papillate and directed towards the growing tips; polyps are small with characteristic clubs in the surface of the coenenchyme, and capstans

The overall objective of the present survey was to investigate the diversity and distribution of octocoral fauna of the southwest Indian coast. Our study reports 14 species of octocorals from six families and 10 genera. Ten species were found to

Fig. 15. (A) Junceella juncea; (B) Junceella juncea dried.

This genus is a new record to India.


octocorals on the south-west indian coast

1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004) show variations of sclerites in different forms from the present colonies which need further study. Echinogorgia spp. A and B are new records to India and the previous records of E. complexa, E. flora and E. reticulata (Thomas & Rani, 1987; Mary, 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004) need further revision on its various multiradiate sclerites. Pseudopterogorgia sp. is found to be a new record to India which again needs further study to compare with the previously recorded Pseudopterogorgia fredericki (Williams & Vennam, 2001). Junceella juncea is a common species previously recorded from the south-east and south-west Indian coasts (Thomas & Rani 1987; Mary, 1998; Mary & Lazarus, 2004). The present collection was identified only to the genus level except for Acabaria variabilis and Junceella juncea as the sclerites on other specimens lead to confusion and need detailed revision of the respective taxa. The overall octocoral coverage at study sites was less than 1%. Area-wise distribution shows that diversity was high in Muttom with 12 species followed by Colachel 9, Vizhinjam and Enayam 7 each and Kadiapattanam 6 species. Abundance showed Muttom dominating with 19 specimens followed by Colachel 11, Enayam 10, Vizhinjam 9 and Kadiapattanam 7 to its record. It is also noted that the family Ellisellidae is distributed throughout the entire surveyed sites compared to the other families recorded. Along the Gulf of Mannar (south-east Indian coast), fleshy octcorals are abundant (Pillai, 1971) and recorded with 27 species (Vennam & Parulekar, 1997). Also Vennam et al. (1996) recorded 26 species of alcyonaceans from Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Compared to the south-east coast, the south-west Indian coast shows less abundance and diversification in the octocoral population possibly due to the south-west monsoon that hit the Western Ghats which brings much precipitation in the coastal areas and resultant sedimentation. The one site (Melekkal, Muttom) which had a significant alcyonacean population was a deeper (25+ m) site which in addition to receiving less wave energy and the resultant sedimentation, had a significant area of hard bottom for colonization.

CONCLUSION

Fig. 16. (A) Verrucella sp.; (B) Verrucella sp.; (C) Verrucella sp.

be new records to India with two new to the shallow Indian coast and one seems to be a potential new record. Carijoa, Menella, Paraplexaura and Verucella sp. are entirely new genera to India. The distinct orange coloured Acabaria sp. A is found to be a new taxon because of its different undescribed/coloured (and colourless) sclerites with leafy clubs and spindles with tubercles in both nodes and internodes. Acabaria variabilis and Dendronephthya are new to the shallow Indian coast (11 and 12 m depth) as the previous records (Thomson & Henderson, 1906; Thomson & Simpson, 1909; Verseveldt & Ofwegen, 1991) were from 60 –70 m depth. Echinomuricea sp. is found to be a potential new record as the earlier records reported from the south-east and south-west coasts of India (Thomas & Rani, 1986; Mary,

Much work remains to bring into order octocorallian taxonomy and ecology on the Indian subcontinent. Octocorals are a small proportion of the rocky reef fauna of south-western India. The present survey makes a small contribution towards resolving issues surrounding the distribution and taxonomy of this little known fauna.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS

This project was funded by the Committee for Research and Exploration, National Geographic Society (grant No. 7094 – 01). We acknowledge Phil Alderslade and Leen Ofwegen with gratitude for the confirmation of species identification and their valuable comments on numerous aspects of this manuscript. Thanks are also due to the two anonymous referees for their helpful comments on earlier versions of this paper. The first author thanks M. Aneel Kumar, Sini Sony and Marwa Al-Adhali, GIS Experts, RTS, Oman for working on the latest Google map.

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anita g. mary et al.

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Mary A.G., Lazarus S. and Vincent S.G.P. (1998) Marine organisms containing bio-active compounds—a check list. Proceedings of the First National Seminar on Trends in Marine Biotechnology, Manonmaniam Sundaranar University, India, ICAS 2, pp. 11–27. Mary A.G. and Lazarus S. (2004) Gorgonids off the southwest coast of India. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 46, 32–43. Muley E.V., Alfred J.R.B., Venkatraman K. and Wafar M.V.M. (2000) Status of coral reefs of India. In Moosa M.K., Soemodihardjo S., Sugiarto A., Romimohtarto K., Nontji A., Soekarno and Suharsono (eds) Proceedings of the Ninth International Coral Reef Symposium, Bali, 23–27 October 2000, Volume 2, pp. 847 –854. Nair R.R. and Qasim S.Z. (1978) Occurrence of a bank with living corals off the south-west coast of India. Indian Journal of Marine Science 7, 55–58. Ofwegen van L.P. (1987) Melithaeidae (Coelenterata: Anthozoa) from the Indian Ocean and the Malay Archipelago. Zoologische Verhandelingen, Leiden 239, 3–57, figures 1 –35. Ofwegen van L.P. (1989) On Wrightella coccinea (Ellis & Solander, 1786) and Wrightella stiansnyi spec. nov. (Anthozoa: Gorgonacea: Melithaeidae). Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden 63, 27–34. Ofwegen van L.P. (1994) Pseudothelogorgia, a new genus of gorgonacean octocorals from the Indian Ocean. Precious Corals and Octocoral Research 3, 19–22. Ofwegen van L.P. and Vennam J. (1991) Notes on Octocorallia from the Laccadives (SW India). Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden 65, 143 – 154. Ofwegen van L.P. and Benayahu Y. (1992) Notes on Alcyonacea (Octocorallia) from Tanzania. Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden 65, 139–154, figures 1 –15. Ofwegen van L.P. and Schleyer M.H. (1997) Corals of the south-west Indian Ocean V. Leptophyton benayahui gen. nov. & spec. nov. (Cnidaria, Alcyonacea) from deep reefs off Durban and on the Kwazulu-Natal south coast, South Africa. Investigational Report Series of the Oceanographic Research Institute 71, 1–12. Pratt E.M. (1903) Alcyonaria of the Maldives. Part II. The genera Sarcophytum, Lobophytum, Sclerophytum and Alcyonium. In Gardiner J.S. (ed.) The fauna and geography of the Maldives and Laccadive archipelagoes. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, pp. 503–539, plates 28–31. Pratt E.M. (1905) Report on some Alcyoniidae collected by Prof. Herdman at Ceylon in 1902. In Herdman W.A. and Honell J. (eds) Report to the Government of Ceylon on the Pearl and Oyster Fisheries of the Gulf of Mannar 3, 247 –268. Pillai C.S.G. (1971) Composition of the coral fauna of the southeastern coast of India and the Laccadives. Symposium of the Zoological Society of London 28, 301 –327. Rajasuriya A., Zahir H., Muley E.V., Subramanian B.R., Venkataraman K., Wafar M.V.M., Munjurul Hannan Khan S.M. and Whittingham E. (2000) Status of coral reefs in South Asia: Bangladesh, India, Maldives and Sri Lanka. In Wilkinson C. (ed.) Status of coral reefs of the world: 2000. Townsville, Queensland: Australian Institute of Marine Science, pp. 95–116. Seawell R.B.S. (1932) The coral coasts of India. Geographical Journal 79, 449–465. Sluka R.D. and Lazarus S. (2009) Reefs of India’s west coast. Reef Encounter 37, 18. Thomas P.A. and Rani M.G. (1986) A systematic appraisal of the commercially important gorgonids of the Indian seas. Journal of the Marine Biological Association of India 28, 96–112.


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Thomson J.A. and Simpson J.J. (1909) An account of the alcyonarians collected by the R.I.M.S.S. Investigator in the Indian Ocean II. The alcyonarians of the littoral area. Calcutta: The Indian Museum, pp. xii +319, 9 plates. Tixier-Durivault A. (1966) Octocoralliaires de Madagascar et des eˆles avoisinantes. Fauna de Madagascar 21, 1 –456, figures 1–399. Vennam J. and Parulekar A.H. (1994) Sinularia Mauritania, a new species of soft coral (Coelenterata: Octocorallia) from Mauritius, Indian Oceabn. Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden 48, 135–158. Vennam J. and Parulekar A.H. (1997) The ecology and distribution of alcyonaceans at Mandapam (Palk Bay, Gulf of Mannar), South India. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 94, 521–524. Vennam J., Bhat K.L. and Parulekar A.H. (1996) Occurrence and distribution of soft corals (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea) from the Andaman and Nicobar Islands. Journal of the Bombay Natural History Society 93, 202–209. Verseveldt J. (1968) Preliminary note on some new Octocorallia from Madagascar. Proceedings of the Koninklijke Nederlandse Academie van Wetenschappen (C) 71, 52–59. Verseveldt J. (1970) A new species of Sinularia (Octocorallia: Alcyonacea) from Madagascar. Israel Journal of Zoology 19, 165–168, figures 1 –3.

Verseveldt J. and Ofwegen van L.P. (1991) Five new species of the genus Dendronephthya Ku¨kenthal 1905 (Octocorallia: Nephtheidae) from the Indian Ocean. Zoologische Mededelingen, Leiden 65, 155 –169. Williams G.C. (1997) Preliminary assessment of the phylogeny of Pennatulacea (Anthozoa: Octocorallia), with a re-evaluation of ediacaran frond-like fossils, and a synopsis of the history of evolutionary thought regarding the sea pens. In den Hartog J.C. (ed.) Sixth international conference on coelenterate biology. Naturalis. Leiden: Nationaal Natuurhistorisch Museum, pp. 497–509. and Williams G.C. and Vennam J.S. (2001) A revision of the Indo-west Pacific taxa of the gorgonian genus Pseudopterogorgia (Octocorallia: Gorgoniidae), with the description of a new species from western India. Bulletin of the Biological Society of Washington 10, 71–95.

Correspondence should be addressed to: A.G. Mary HMR Consultants PO Box 1295, CPO Seeb, PCIII, Sultanate of Oman email: marineani@rediffmail.com

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Octocoral diversity & distribution on the southwest Indian coast  

Octocorals include seafans and soft corals which are in the primitive stages of study in India. This is an effort to record the first report...

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