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Systematics: Introduction

Indo-Malayan Reef Corals: a generic overview

Bert W. Hoeksema & Leendert P. van Ofwegen (eds.)

This CD-ROM deals with animals that are popularly known as black corals, stony corals, soft corals, fire corals, and lace corals. The illustrations shown in this CD-ROM have been made in Indonesia, with the exception of some that were made in neighbouring countries at SE Asia. Most coral species found in the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean are wide-spread and therefore usually also occur in the species-rich Indo-Malayan region. Hence, this CD-ROM guide is not only useful for the identification of Indonesian corals but also for corals from other Indo-Pacific areas.

In order to keep this guide practical, only species are presented that can be found in shallow water, usually on coral reefs and on sediments nearby. Many of these species contain unicellular algae ( ‘zooxanthellae’) that live embedded in the soft, transparent tissue of the coral animal. Such corals are called ‘zooxanthellate corals’, and because of the algae they can use sunlight for their growth. They grow much faster than corals without zooxanthellae, the ‘azooxanthellate corals’, which depend only on their tentacles for food. Zooxanthellate corals also posses tentacles, but since they grow upward and sideways in order to catch even more sunlight, together they construct huge masses of limestone near the water surface that are well known as coral reefs. Azooxanthellate corals are usually small and they usually occur in deeper water, although some of them can also be found on reefs.

The people who are targeted as potential users of this CD-ROM are coral reef scientists, coral reef conservationists, snorkellers and SCUBA-divers, aquarium hobbyists, marine park rangers and government officials responsible for inspecting corals in the control of international trade in endangered species.