Two new species of encrusting anemones have been found in the Pacific Ocean near southern Japan and on the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. The anemones are of the genus Neozoanthus and are described in a paper published in the journal Zookeys. The anemones, Neozoanthus uchina from the Middle Ryukyu Islands of southern Japan, and Neozoanthus caleyi of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef are small, with polyps that are 6mm in diameter or less and have red, gray, blue, or purple oral discs. According to the paper, the anemones can be found in coral reef systems with strong currents with some siltation. These species have symbiotic, photosynthetic, single-celled algae that enable them to get energy from the sun.
“We were very surprised in 2008 to discover Neozoanthus in the Pacific, in Japan,” University of the Ryukyus Associate Professor James Davis Reimer said in statement released by the university. Reimer said that he and graduate students Yuka Irei and Takuma Fujii initially thought the anemones were rare, but further research determined that the anemones are actually common in Japan. Reimer said that the discovery of these two species showcases that there are very few zoanthid researchers who are looking for new species, especially given these anemones were found in well researched regions of the world.