Through this research, Academy scientists are carrying on the work of Charles Darwin. "And there are more species to come," says Kavanaugh.
A case of mistaken identity points to need for increased protections
This year, Academy scientists identified three new species of soft corals and two new species and a new genus of sea fan found off the Pacific coast.
For 100 years, the fiery red sea fan with long, elegant branches had been lumped in with 36 other species of Euplexaura, until Academy octocoral expert Gary Williams was able to set the record straight. After comparing a colony collected off the coast of San Francisco to older samples in the Academy's collection, Williams announced an entirely new genusand challenged our assumptions about familiar waters. Major cities, as Williams pointed out to Live Science, "aren't places you'd think there are still discoveries waiting to be made."
Williams, the Academy's Curator of Invertebrate Zoology and Geology, encountered the sea fan now named Chromoplexaura marki during a two-week survey of the Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and it was far from the only surprise. Funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the expedition team uncovered "rich and abundant habitats never seen before" in the area, prompting Williams to recommend that NOAA expand the existing sanctuary. The proposed expansionroughly 2,000 additional square mileswould encompass the largest upwelling site in North America, better protecting the nutrient-rich waters that support everything from reefs and seabird colonies to endangered whales.
A Walk on the Ocean Floor
That was not the only new species found in the ocean this year. Scientists at the Academy dove into their
|Contact: Chris Bauer|
California Academy of Sciences