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Friday, September 19, 2008

300 hundred new colouful coral species discovered off Australia, new iguana species found in Fiji

An exciting discovery of 100s of new species near a reef off Australia delights and humbles the soul. Here is a story about this fascinating, enthralling underwater ecosphere, plus a report about a new igunana species found in Fiji:

Hundreds of new ocean species discovered near Australia

Research project studying marine life on reef off Australian coast

by Moira Welsh

Toronto Star Environment Reporter

A Canadian scientist leading a research expedition that studies marine life on Australia's Great Barrier Reef says hundreds of new species have been documented there – including 300 colourful soft corals and a parasite that eats the tongues of fish.

Researchers are analyzing and naming the marine life as part of an ongoing inventory of fragile reef ecosystems that will give scientists a baseline from which to judge whether species are thriving or dying from the impact of pollution and climate change, said Julian Caley, a University of Guelph alumnus.

"We went to places where people have been going for a long time ... so they were all very accessible places. And despite that, under our noses, we were picking up hundreds of new species," Caley said in a telephone interview from Australia.

"The important message is that there is an awful lot of stuff out there that we really don't know about."

Researchers left behind artificial homes – like underwater dollhouses – which they expect will become new residences for reef species. They plan to collect them over the next three years for future studies. The same structures will be placed in waters near Brazil, Hawaii and Pacific islands such as those of American Samoa.

Full Toronto Star article on new species discovered on Australia's reef

New species of iguana found in Fiji Islands

A team of Australian and US scientists have found a new species of iguana living in Fiji.

The newly discovered lizard is bright green with white bands, grows up to 90cm long and is thought to be highly endangered.

Associate Professor Scott Keogh from the Australian National University's School of Botany and Zoology said the iguana was the third species of the creatures known to inhabit Fiji.

Keogh said the origin of the Fiji iguanas, which have lived in the Fiji islands for millions of years, had long puzzled scientists.

He said they probably floated across the Pacific Ocean from the Americas 8,000 kilometres away, where all other iguana species live.

Full story on Iguana Discovery in Fiji Islands

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