Abstract

The published literature on Isla del Coco (Cocos Island), Costa Rica reveals that until recent years the octocorals were among the least known marine invertebrates. Two of the three orders within the subclass Octocorallia, the Pennatulacea (sea pens) and Alcyonacea (soft corals, gorgonians and telestids) occur in Isla del Coco. From recent collections and research, the total octocorallian fauna presently accounts to three pennatulaceans, seven gorgonians, a soft coral, and one telestid. A sea pen, a telestid, and three of the gorgonians have been collected recently, and two of them are probably new species. The genus Pacifigorgia includes one species: P. curta, presently considered as endemic. There are two species of the genus Leptogorgia, one which presents a large distributional range along the Pacific coast of Costa Rica, L. alba, and another which is a new species only found in Isla del Coco and is yet to be described. Finally, an undescribed species related to the genus Rhodelinda was found attached to rodoliths. The other species cited in the literature, the gorgonian, Psammogorgia variabilis, and the pennatulacean, Ptilosarcus undulatus, need to be corroborated since we have not found them yet. Other species, including alcyoniians (soft corals), have been observed by submarine submersibles from 50 m down to 450 m. Some deep water species were collected during a Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institution expedition in 1986 with their research submersible the Johnson Sea Link, and four of them have been identified to genera. Several are expected to represent species new to science. Twelve species of octocorals are recorded here. Rev. Biol. Trop. 56 (Suppl. 2): 71-77. Epub 2008 August 29.
Keywords: Isla del Coco, Cocos Island, Costa Rica, eastern Pacific, octocorals, gorgonians, soft corals, Octocorallia