Pocillopora aliciae is a branching coral at the forefront of the spread of corals down the NSW coast as waters warm.
It is the southernmost branching coral and looks like a species you might find on the Great Barrier Reef, so it stands out in NSW waters particularly in the region we would like to have it logged (south of Port Stephens).
We see it as the flagship species for the poleward advance of corals along eastern Australia.
This coral is found on protected inshore rocky reefs and in urchin barrens at depths of 2-32m in northern NSW and has started appearing further south along the NSW coastline. It is distinctive with a robust, horizontal branching appearance, short sub-branches, rounded branch tips, a pale pink skeleton and distinctive green polyps.
Tracking potential range extensions for corals in NSW is of interest to both divers and scientists. Corals like this provide an indicator of climate change impacts on local reefs, form novel habitats and enable potential range extensions for associated tropical fish and invertebrate species.
If you spot this coral south of Port Stephens, NSW we would love to hear from you! Please log the sighting along with a photo at redmap.com.au or though the Redmap phone app. And for more info on this species and how to identify it, please visit https://www.redmap.org.au/species/2/255/