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Asia Dive News : 300 year old coral found off Japanese coast

HIRADO, Nagasaki - A huge coral mound thought to be about 300 years old has been found off the coast of Azuchi-Oshima Island near Hirado, local officials said.

The Stylocoeniella guentheri coral mound is 3.8 meters long, 3 meters wide and 1.3 meters tall. Satoshi Nojima, an associate professor in Kyushu University's Amakusa Marine Biological Laboratory who is familiar with corals, said the mound was probably one of the largest in Japan.

"Its estimated age is about 300 years, and it is probably one of the biggest in Japan," he said.

The coral was found at a depth of about 10 meters by a contract diver for NTT World Engineering Marine Corp. when the company was removing an undersea cable last spring. In April this year Nojima also took a dive to view the coral.

Stylocoeniella guentheri coral is found around Japan and places such as the Philippines and Taiwan. It grows into a round shape with parts of the coral forming branches or rods.

Nojima said that the coral grows only about 5 millimeters per year. The biggest previously known specimen found off the coast of Amakusa, Kumamoto Prefecture, measured about 50 centimeters.

Source: Mainichi