Journal of the Marine Biological Association of the United Kingdom

Research Article

A new species of alcyonacean octocoral from the Peruvian zoogeographic region

Odalisca Breedya1a2 c1 and Hector M. Guzmana2

a1 Centro de Investigación en Ciencias del Mar y Limnología, Universidad de Costa Rica, Centro de Investigación en Estructuras Microscópicas, PO Box 11501-2060, Universidad de Costa Rica, San José, Costa Rica

a2 Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, PO Box 0843-03092, Panama, Republic of Panama


The first record of the plexaurid genus Psammogorgia from the shallow waters of Peru is reported here. A new species (Psammogorgia hookeri sp. nov.) is described from Isla San Gallán, Paracas National Reserve. The new species was morphologically analysed using light microscopy and scanning electron microscopy. It is distinguished from the others in the genus by its small size; prominent calyces with wide lips around polyp apertures and without a special type of sclerites, but with a concentration of irregular, thorny spindles and wart-clubs around the calyx rim; coenenchymal sclerites that do not reach more than 0.2 mm long; the occurrence of conspicuous star-like radiates; and the colour of the colony and coenenchymal sclerites, which is coral red. The results increase species richness within a genus that has not been studied for more than a century, and contribute to the establishment of characters for further morphological studies. Additionally, the new species adds value to existing protected areas and to the octocoral biodiversity records for the Peruvian region and the eastern Pacific.

(Received October 02 2013)

(Accepted December 05 2013)

(Online publication January 16 2014)


  • biodiversity;
  • eastern Pacific;
  • marine protected area;
  • new species;
  • Octocorallia;
  • octocorals;
  • Peruvian zoogeographic region;
  • plexaurids;
  • Psammogorgia