Abundance, distribution and new records of scleractinian corals at Barrow Island and Southern Montebello Islands, Pilbara (Offshore) Bioregion
The local abundance and distribution of scleractinian corals were documented near Barrow Island in the Pilbara (Offshore) Bioregion, Western Australia. Using a standard rapid ecological assessment method we recorded 204 species from 51 genera and as a result of this study we extend the known distribution range of 15 species. We find a high diversity of habitat types promotes high species richness, particularly among Acropora species. Our results confirm the existence of a unique suite of coral species in the Pilbara that is not recorded in the Oceanic Shoals (Offshore) or Pilbara (Nearshore) Bioregions. The Pilbara has a rich coral fauna that is often overlooked and the Barrow/ Montebello Islands group may provide a high latitude refuge for some coral species including 39 species that are listed as Vulnerable on the IUCN red list of threatened species.