scientific article | Northeast Gulf Science
Cairns SD, Opresko DM, Hopkins TS, Schroeder WW
Sixty-three species of azooxanthellate scleractinians and 26 species of antipatharians are recorded from the Gulf of Mexico. This report constitutes the first inventory of Antipatharia within the geographic boundaries of the Gulf of Mexico whose southern limits are the Yucatan Straits to the south and the Florida Straits to the east. Thirteen range extensions of azooxanthellate species of the Order Scleractinia, and 28 species of the Order Antipatharia are reported. With respect to new records, we report four new records of azooxanthellate scleractinians and six new records of antipatharians from the outer continental shelf. One of the species, Sibopathes macrospina Opresko, 1993, represents a new species in the western Atlantic region and appears related to Sibopathes gophura Van Pesch, 1914. The Gulf scleractinian fauna constitutes 54% of those known from the western Atlantic; the antipatharian fauna constitutes 93% of the western Atlantic fauna. These two groups are most diverse (55-56 species) in the regions of the Gulf adjacent to the Caribbean Sea and Atlantic Ocean (subdivisions I and VI). Diversity gradually decreases towards the western Gulf. Only six species are known from subdivision IV (east Mexico shelf and slope) and 23 species are recorded from subdivsion V (Campeche Bank, Mexico).