50 Year Old Coral Collection Discovered at UNE

UNE’s Natural History Museum Collections Manager, Professor Karl Vernes, recently made a discovery that adds to our knowledge of the corals that occur in northern New South Wales.

More than 150 coral samples believed to have been collected 50 years ago were recently uncovered in the collection of the UNE Natural History Museum. The samples are thought to have been collected as part of the first coral survey ever conducted in Australian waters, and only the second survey of corals anywhere in the world. Charlie Veron, known as the ‘godfather of coral’, conducted the 1973 survey at the Solitary Islands near Coffs Harbour with his student colleagues when they were studying at UNE. The coral collection is significant because it was collected half a century ago when environmental conditions were very different to how they are today. Finds like this could potentially help researchers now look at how warmer waters from human-caused climate change may have affected coral species diversity, as well as growth form and development.

Watch the NBN News report and interview with Karl here.

In keeping with the coral discovery, we kick off 2022 with our Natural History Museum’s “Specimen of the Month”, the organ pipe coral (Tubipora musica). This specimen is of great significance to the UNE Natural History Museum and was one of the species collected by Charlie in 1973.

The collection showcases a total of one hundred and seventy-seven different coral specimens, which museum staff and volunteers are currently sorting and photographing. Fifty years on from gathering these specimens, Charlie Veron has revisited the collection via these photographs, and put names on the un-named specimens, and updated the taxonomy of those for which names have changed.

Read more here: https://unenaturalhistorymuseum.org.au/the-organ-pipe-coral-tubipora-musica/

Solitary Islands info: https://parksaustralia.gov.au/marine/parks/temperate-east/solitary-islands/