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The Atoll of Funafuti, Ellice group : its zoology, botany, ethnology and general structure based on collections made by Charles Hedley of the Australian Museum, Sydney, N.S.W.

[XII.] — The Alcyonaria. — Part II

page 307

The Alcyonaria.
Part II.

The collection of Gorgonidœ made by Mr. C. Hedley, although small in number, is particularly interesting from the fact that, of the ten species obtained, eight prove to be new.

Included in the collection is a number of noteworthy forms belonging mostly to genera containing but few species.

The species described as new are as follows:—Keroeides gracilis, Acanthogorgia breviflora, Anthomuricea simplex, Villogorgia flagel-lata, Bebryce Studeri, Muricella purpurea, Nicella laxa and Ver-rucella flabellata. Six out of the eight genera above mentioned, have not previously been represented in the Museum collection.

The wealth of the Pacific Ocean in Gorgonidœ, indicated by the Challenger Report, has been further emphasized by the investigation of the Funafuti fauna.

The result of these studies has been to enlarge genera hitherto only represented by one or two species; thus, another species has each been added to the monotypic genera Keroeides and Nicella, the former inhabiting the coast of Japan, the latter that of Mauritius. Anthomuricea and Bebryce have each been increased by an additional species.

The whole of the specimens with two exceptions (Plexaura antipathes and Heliopora) were obtained by tangles on the outer reef, at a depth of from 40 to 70 fathoms.

Mr. Edgar R. Waite has again fovoured me with the drawings from which the accompanying plates have been reproduced.

The following notes have been supplied by Mr. C Hedley:—"Dead specimens of the Heliopora were abundant, a raised bed of it indicating upheaval is described, ante p. 11. Numerous colonies, each extending over many square yards were seen in two or three fathoms depth on the lagoon coast of the main islet, but on procuring pieces by the aid of a native diver, they always proved to be dead, having perhaps been smothered by shifting page 308sand. Dead fragments of this genus were also common on the beaches, yet it was only once encountered by any of our party alive, in which state it was dredged off the South-West Entrance. On Nukulailai, however, I noticed living Heliopora in abundance at low water mark at the Boat Entrance.

"The Plexaura was restricted, as far as my observations went, to one situation, the lagoon side of a "passage" (vide p. 18), where I saw it on both east and west sides of the atoll. It grew in large bushes four feet high and a yard in diameter, in two or three fathoms of water. Numerous Avicula attached to these suggested a flock of small birds perching on the twigs."