South Chilean fjords contain an astonishing diverse benthic macrofauna of which anthozoans form a major portion. Azooxanthellate solitary scleractinians, which were hitherto known from major depths, were found as shallow as 8 m during several expeditions to the south Chilean fjord region. At some sites, stony corals dominate the macrofauna and form dense aggregations, which may cover several 10’s of square meters in depths below 25 m. The discovery of these communities in shallow water for the first time allows for in situ observations and structural analysis of these populations by means of SCUBA diving. For further studies, living and dead corals were sampled, photographed, and dried for preservation. Several specimens and tissue samples were preserved in 96% ethanol. The sampled specimens were identified as Desmophyllum dianthus (Esper, 1794) and Caryophyllia Lamarck, 1801 spec. nov. Specimens of D. dianthus found on a shipwreck allowed for growth rate estimations. Minimum growth rates were estimated as 2.3 mm longitudinal growth per year and 1.6 mm diameter growth. Due to increasing human impact on benthic communities in Chilean fjords, especially through salmon farming, it cannot be excluded that these coral communities are in danger before they are even studied.

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Zoologische Verhandelingen

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Naturalis journals & series

Försterra, G, & Häussermann, V. (2003). First report on large scleractinian (Cnidaria: Anthozoa) accumulations in cold-temperate shallow water of south Chilean fjords. Zoologische Verhandelingen, 345, 117–128.