October 2021 Port Noarlunga Jetty, South Australia

South Australia might not seem like an obvious destination to collect reef-building corals, but it is, in fact, the type location for four nominal species: Caryophyllia australis Milne-Edwards & Haime 1849; Cylicia magna Tenison-Woods, 1878; Homophyllia incrustans Dennant 1906 and Plesiastrea proximalis Dennant 1904. Caryophyllia australis is currently accepted as Homophyllia australis; Cylicia magna is a junior synonym of Homophyllia australis; Plesiastrea proximans is a junior synonym of Plesiastrea versipora (Lamarck 1816) and Homophyllia incrustans is a junior synonym of the non-reef building Heterocyathus sulcatus (Verrill, 1866). However, given Project Phoenix’s aim to revisit all the nominal species of reef-building corals that leaves topotype of three species to find.

In the company of a crew from the Marine Life Society of South Australia Incorporated (MLSSA), and under the umbrella of the South Australia Museum, Andrew Baird dived the Noarlunga Jetty, 30km south of Adelaide, on a cold and windy day, with water temperatures of 15⁰C. We found topotypes of all three target species (Figure 1) plus a few specimens of the one other coral that is common in these parts, Coscinaraea mcneilli Wells, 1962. A successful morning’s work!

Project Phoenix thanks Andrea Crowther and Shirley Sorokin from the South Australian Museum for facilitating the collections and hosting Andrew Baird’s visit and the crew from MLSSA (Figure 2).

Fig 1. A topotype of Homophyllia australis (Milne-Edwards & Haime 1849).
Photo credit: Andrew Baird
Fig 2. Andrew with the crew from the Marine Life Society of South Australia Inc.  From left to right: David Muirhead, Steve Reynolds, Andrew Baird & Chris Hall.
Photo credit Shirley Sorokin

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