Polar Biology

, Volume 30, Issue 4, pp 487–492 | Cite as

Extraordinary abundance of hydrocorals (Cnidaria, Hydrozoa, Stylasteridae) in shallow water of the Patagonian fjord region

  • Verena Häussermann
  • Günter Försterra
Original Paper


During two scuba-diving expeditions in 2005 and 2006, stylasterids were documented and sampled from fjords and channels in the Central Patagonian Zone, Chile. At 15 of a total of 33 sampling sites we found colonies of Errina antarctica. We discuss the observed distribution patterns and the variability of colony shapes. In some regions we found E. antarctica to occur in extraordinary high densities on primary and secondary hard substratum below 10 m. In the archipelago Madre de Dios we discovered large colonies of E. antarctica covering areas of more than 10,000 m² with coverage exceeding 80%. The dense accumulations of E. antarctica have reef-like structure and form complex habitats. At one site we observed extensive mechanical damage to the corals that may result from coral extraction by divers and/or from boat anchors. Slow growth, fragility, scarceness and the lack of knowledge on their ecology make these spectacular and unique biocenoses very susceptible for damages and require protection and further studies.


Stylasteridae Southern Chile Patagonia Shallow water Benthos Fjords 



The sampling trips to the Central Patagonian Zone have been partially financed by the CONAF, the PADI Foundation, the Huinay Foundation, the Témpano Project, and NAVIMAG. Many thanks to all of them! We are grateful to our cooperating taxonomists, especially Stephen Cairns for the identification of the stylasterids, to Chris Mah for the starfish, Dave Pawson for the sea urchin, Igor Smirnov for the ophiurids, and Phil Lambert for Gorgonocephalus chilensis. Many thanks to IMOPAC (Guarella) for their hospitality.

This is publication no 17 of Huinay Scientific Field Station.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2006

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Huinay Scientific Field StationPuerto MonttChile
  2. 2.Universidad Austral de ChileValdiviaChile

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