Field adventures with Merrick and Darryl

Queensland Museum Collection Managers Dr Merrick Ekins (Sessile Marine Invertebrates) and Darryl Potter (Mollusca) ventured up to Caloundra recently in search of a blue soft coral and some molluscs.

Dr Merrick Ekins in the field with blue soft coral.
Darryl Potter in the field looking for molluscs.

As part of an International Collaboration as part of the Cnidarian Tree of Life, DNA sequencing has revealed differences between Australian species of soft corals and those originally described from other parts of the world.

This particular soft coral occurs in the rock pools at low tide in South-East Queensland. Soft corals also known as octocorals because they have eight tentacles. This blue soft coral is in the Genus Sansibia, the name of which is derived from the German name “Sansibar” for Zanzibar. So new specimens were required for the description of new species.

This genus has beautiful iridescent sclerites that resemble opals (just much smaller than real opals at 0.02mm in size).

Here’s some close up images of the octocorals that reveal a lot more detail!

During the trip, Merrick and Darryl also observed a Carnelian Cowrie (Lyncina carneola) crawling around on the intertidal rocks and several Oak Chitons (Onithochiton quercinus) attached to boulders.

Carnelian Cowrie (Lyncina carneola)
Oak Chitons (Onithochiton quercinus)

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