A new blood-red octocorals species was discovered recently in an underground mountain near the island paradise of Coiba, located in the Panamanian Pacific, reported today the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute in Panama (STRI)
The new species belongs to the "Thesea" family and was named "Thesea dalioli" in honor of biologist Ray Dalio, whose "valuable" work has been fundamental in the field of marine exploration, said the scientific organization.
The characteristics that makes the new species different from others are "the thickness of the branch, the size of sclerites or the bright red color of the colonies," the institute explained.
It was discovered in an underwater mountain known as Hannibal Bank, located 60 kilometers from the Panamanian Pacific coast and integrated into the Coiba National Park, considered a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2005.
"After only two expeditions with submersibles up to 300 meters deep, we have identified 17 octocorals species in Banco Hannibal, including the discovery and description of three new species," said Smithsonian marine ecologist Héctor M. Guzmán.
The soft and hard corals, the expert said, "have therapeutic, neurological, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer properties and help bone repair."
"Our ability to contribute to the understanding of soft corals and their habitats, depends not only on the constant funding for the use of submersibles, but also on our continuing ability to obtain research permits to continue working in the Coiba National Park," he added.
The park is made up of the island of Coiba, the largest in the Central American Pacific, eight smaller islands and 30 islets and is considered one of the most extensive and diverse in the world.
It is part of the Marine Corridor of the Eastern Tropical Pacific, which also includes the Galapagos National Park and Marine Reserve (Ecuador), the Isla del Coco National Park (Costa Rica), the Malpelo Fauna and Flora Sanctuary (Colombia) and the National Natural Park Gorgona (Colombia).
The Smithsonian is a recognized research center that depends on the US Government and whose headquarters for Latin America is located in Panama.