Boninastrea boninensis, Yabe and Sugiyama 1935

Author: Andrew Baird

Species: Boninastrea boninensis, Yabe and Sugiyama 1935

This almost mythical coral has only been collected twice according to Corallosphere; once at the type location in the Ogasawara Islands (also known as the Bonin Islands) and once in Indonesia. The Ministry of the Environment in Japan has formally classified it as extinct.

The taxonomic affiliation of the species is also unclear. Yabe and Sugiyama (1935) placed it in the Family Mussidae (now Lobophylliidae) but Veron (1986) placed it in the family Faviidae (now Merulinidae). Based on an examination of the holotype, Huang et al. (2014) suggest it is most likely a merulind with affinities to Hydnophora.

Figure 1. (a) Field image of Boninastrea boninensis sensu Shirai 1977; (b) A potential topotype (specimen number 59-7007) of B. boninensis sensu Shirai 1977.

I have only managed to find one published field image of the species in Shirai (1977). This field image suggests it looks very much like a Platygyra. Nishihira and Veron (1995) further suggest that this species is often confused with Platygyra contorta Veron, 1990. Curiously, they also say it is abundant in the Philippines.

I did manage to find a colony that looks very much like the colony imaged in Shirai 1977 (Fig 1a & 1b). However, once bleached it is clear that this species is not a good match for the holotype (Fig 2a & 2b). It is more likely that the colony imaged by Shirai is a Platygyra. Unfortunately, our search was cut short by an incident of covid on the team and those still healthy were bundled on to the return ferry to Tokyo after negative RAT tests. We will be back again next year to the resume the hunt for B. boninensis and the eight other species with a type location in the Ogasawara Islands!

Figure 2. (a) A potential topotype (specimen number 59-7007) of Boninastrea boninensis sensu Shirai 1977; (b) The holotype of B. boninensis Yabe and Sugiyama 1935 IPGS 44970.

Literature cited

Huang D, Benzoni F, Fukami H, et al. (2014) Taxonomic classification of the reef coral families Merulinidae, Montastraeidae, and Diploastraeidae (Cnidaria: Anthozoa: Scleractinia). Zool J Linn Soc 171:277-355

Nishihira M, Veron JEN (1995) Hermatypic corals of Japan. Kaiyusha

Shirai S (1977) Ecological encyclopedia of the marine animals of the Ryukyu Islands. Okinawa Kyoiku Shuppan,Japan

Veron JEN (1986) Corals of Australia and the Indo-Pacific. Angus & Robertson, SydneyYabe H, Sugiyama T (1935) Revised list of the reef-corals from the Japanese seas and of the fossil reef corals of the raised reefs and the Ryukyu limestone of Japan. Journal of the Geological Society of Japan 42:379-403

2 thoughts on “Boninastrea boninensis, Yabe and Sugiyama 1935

  1. Thank you, Andrew & team. I have annotated my 600+ page hardback tome by Shohei Shirai, Ecological Encyclopedia of the Marine Animals of the Ryuykyu Islands, and realize the photo on page 574 matches your upper left photo in this Project Phoenix post. It makes me share a mundane, nostalgic personal observation. My Shirai photo field guide (FG) to Western Pacific coral reef animals was a gift from my Okinawan girl friend in 1977 (still my wife after more than four decades), and it flabbergasted me at a time when few good photo FGs were available. Dr. Shirai was a real pioneer in my opinion. While you are doing the heavy lifting of professional taxonomy, I also enjoy my 1995 tome, Hermatypic Corals of Japan, by Nishihira & Veron (a gift from Prof. Robert van Woesik). Looking forward to learning of the findings of your return expedition next year.
    Cheers, Keven Reed, O.D.


  2. Pingback: Wonders of Ogasawara Islands | Project Phoenix

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