Bio Diversity

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Item No 10. Turtle/ Coral Showcase

10.1. Black Coral

Black corals (Antipatharia) are a group of deep water, tree-like corals related to sea anemones. They are also found in rare dark shallow water areas such as New Zealand's Milford Sound where they can be viewed from an underwater observatory. They normally occur in the tropics. There are about 230 known species of Antipatharians in 42 genera.[1]

Though black coral's living tissue is brilliantly colored, it takes its name from the distinctive black or dark brown color of its skeleton. Also unique to black coral are the tiny spines that cover the surface of the skeleton, the origin of the nickname little thorn coral.

Black coral is listed in Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES).

Corals are consists of the remains of external skeletons of millions of tiny coral polyps which thrive in large colonies of warm clear seas. Corals are formed by coral polyp which belongs to Phylum Coelentrata.

Coelenterata is an obsolete term used for two animal phyla, the Ctenophora (comb jellies) and the Cnidaria (coral animals, true jellies, sea anemones, sea pens, and their allies). The name comes from the Greek"koilos" ("full bellied"), referring to the hollow body cavity common to these two phyla. They have very simple tissue organization, with external and internal only two layers of cells, and radial symmetry. Some of the examples are corals, sea anemone which are colonial while hydra and jelly fish which are solitary.

Black corals are formed by the species Antipathes spiralis. Due to the rarity sometimes they are named as “Akabar” or “king corals”.

These slow-growing, long-living animals thrive in very deep waters—300 meters (980≥ feet) and deeper. According to a recent media report, which confirms the age of black corals stated that “Santa Cruz, Calif. - For the first time, scientists have been able to validate the age of deep-sea black corals in the Gulf of Mexico. They found the Gulf is home to 2,000 year-old deep-sea black corals, many of which are only a few feet tall”.

Density is 1.34, refractive index is 1.56. This indicates that the material is organic. Unlike true precious corals black corals does not effervesce with acid. It can be carved and polished for jewellery. The carvings are jet black and possess high degree of lustre.

Donated by: Commander Ravi Weerapperuma (Rtd), SL Navy

10.2. Preserved Green Turtles

Preserved Green Turtle (Chelonia mydas) is listed as endangered species and its body is covered by teardrop shaped carapace and a few characteristics distinguish the green turtle from the other members of its family. Unlike the closely related hawksbill turtle, the green turtle’s snout is very short and its beak is unhooked.

One of these were detected by Mr.R.A.J. Buddhadasa (ASC) at Parcel post, Colombo concealed inside personal baggage.

The other specimen was donated by Mr. P.K.C.Wimalasooriya (ASC).

10.3. Preserved Hawksbill Turtle

With an amber background and irregular combination of light and dark streaks, the Hawksbill Turtle’s (Eretmochelys imbricate) shell (scutes) is utilized to make various decorative ornaments as well.

The exhibited stuffed turtles were detected at Laksirisewa UPB Warehouse while attempting to import violating Customs Ordinance read with Fauna and Flora Protection Ordinance. (Customs Case Number BO/44/96)

Detecting Officers: Mr. S.D.A.S.K. Subasinghe (SC) & Mr. D.M.G. Nimalthilake (SC)

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