June 2014
View the material prepared for Government observers on the identification of protected corals known to be caught incidental to fishing.

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Coral identification guide (PDF, 3,306K)


This guide provides a summary of key identification features for the coral groups (Phylum Cnidaria) we find in the New Zealand region:

  • Stony corals;
  • Black corals;
  • Gorgonians (sea fans, sea whips);
  • Stylasterid hydrocorals
  • Soft corals
  • Sea pens
  • Zoanthids

Revisions and improvements to guides such as these help provide a better understanding of what cold-water corals are, where they are most at risk from interactions with commercial fisheries, as well as improve our knowledge of the region’s species diversity.

This guide plays an important role in aiding fisheries observers by helping them correctly identify coral bycatch occurring throughout New Zealand waters. This data can then help ascertain the adverse effects of commercial fishing on protected coral species. Read more in CSP fisheries observers.


Publication information

This version has been updated, and undergone technical review by Di Tracey, Diana Macpherson, Rob Stewart, Jaret Bilewitch, and Peter Marriott, (NIWA Taihoro Nukurangi), Stephen Cairns and Dennis Opresko, (Smithsonian Institution, Washington, USA), Phil Alderslade (CSIRO, Hobart, Australia), Frederik Sinniger (Ryukyus university) and Marcelo Kitahara (University of São Paulo, Brazil).

Edited by Lyndsey Holland, Department of Conservation.

Designed by Port Group Ltd.

Photographs were supplied by NIWA, and by MPI fisheries observers.

Prepared for the Conservation Services Programme, Department of Conservation — Te Papa Atawhai. Project POP2020-02.


Conservation Services Programme
Department of Conservation
PO Box 10-420
Wellington 6143


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