Publication title

A new octocoral species of Swiftia (Holaxonia, Plexauridae) from the upper bathyal off Mauritania (NE Atlantic)

Publication abstract

Three species of the genus Swiftia are known for the NE Atlantic Ocean and Mediterranean Sea. Remotely-operated vehicle (ROV) surveys and sampling on board RV Maria S. Merian during cruise MSM 16/3 ‘PHAETON’ in 2010 provided footage and specimens of octocorals off Mauritania. Micro-computed tomography (micro-CT) reveals, for the first time in taxonomy of octocorals, the three-dimensional arrangement of the sclerites in a polyp. Swiftia phaeton sp. nov. is described for the continental slope off Mauritania. This azooxanthellate octocoral is distinctive from NE Atlantic and Mediterranean congenerics by the dark red colour of the colonies (including the polyps), the presence of a layer of rod sclerites on top of the polyp mounds, and different sizes of polyps and sclerites. Using micro-CT has allowed the observation and imaging of a layer of sclerites that is distinct from other species of the same genus. ROV images revealed live records of S. phaeton sp. nov. in submarine canyons and on cold-water coral mounds in the upper-bathyal off Mauritania (396–639 m depth), mainly attached to dead coral, coral rubble, or rocks. The new species represents an extension of the genus distribution to the tropical latitudes (17°07’N and 20°14’N) of the NE Atlantic Ocean.

Íris Sampaio, Lydia Beuck, André Freiwald
Publication type
Peer-reviewed paper
Publication date

Related Partnership Project

Project WASP Mauritania

WASP West African Biodiversity under Pressure

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