CN51. pink branching hydrocorals

A. Cape Flattery, Olympic coast, n. Washington
B. Sutton Islets, Egmont, s. BC
C. Stubbs Island, Weynton Passage, c. BC
pink branching hydrocorals
D. Mushroom Rock, Cape Flattery, n. Washington, Neil McDaniel photograph





The pink branching hydrocorals, illustrated by these photographs, pose a confounding mystery that numerous experts have grappled with over the years. Whether they are subspecies or specimens that have grown differently in response to their environment (eco-types), the individual variation of their colony and pore design creates uncertainty. Only a few collected specimens are scattered between scientists, so it is no surprise that a definitive statement cannot be made. Sizes approaching 15 cm (6 in) across may be attained by specimens found from n. Alaska to s. California in the subtidal zone to 55 m (182 ft).
Since this book’s original publication in 2005, Dr. Bruce Wing’s identifications have been superseded by the more recent studies of Dr. Steven Cairns, from the Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC. His analysis shows that the specimens in photographs A, B and C are Stylasterias verrillii, a species primarily living in current swept channels and fjords. Photograph D features Stylasterias venustus one that dwells along outer coastlines often affected by surge
Other scientific names that have been applied over the years include Stylaster californicus, Allopora californicus, Stylaster verilli, Allopora verilli, Allopora norvegica, Allopora moseleyi, Stylaster venustus, Allopora venustus and Allopora venusta.