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Distinguished Author

Bocage-JV-Barbosa-du-1823-1.jpg

José Vicente Barbosa du Bocage
  (1823–1907).

A Portuguese zoologist and politician. He was the curator of Zoology at the Museum of Natural History in Lisbon. His work at the Museum consisted in acquiring, describing and coordinating collections, many of which arrived from the Portuguese colonies in Africa, such as Angola, Mozambique, etc. He published more than 200 taxonomic papers on mammals, birds, and fishes. In the 1880s he became the Minister of the Navy and later the Minister for Foreign Affairs for Portugal. The zoology collection at the Lisbon Museum is called the Bocage Museum in his honor. He was responsible for identifying many new species, which he named according to the naturalist who found them.

Species of the month

Zigzag Stony Coral

Madrepora oculata

Madrepora oculata

Some facts on this coral:

Height: 30 to 50 cm.

Depth range: 80 to 2000 m.

Range: Worldwide outside of polar seas.

Diet: Plankton and suspended organic particles.

First described: By the Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus in 1758.


Madrepora oculata doesn't like to follow straight lines, but prefers to zigzag. It is one of the deepest reef building stony corals in the world, known to occur as deep as 2000 meters. Colonies are distinguished by the zig-zag appearance of their branches. The species is quite variable in its branch tendency, its texture and color and other aspects, even within the same colony. It is bushy, growing in small colonies that form thickets, creating fan-shaped matrices. It has thick skeletal parts that grow in a lamellar pattern. As its skeleton is fragile and unable to sustain a large framework, it is usually found among stronger corals that offer protection. Madrepora oculata produces large amounts of mucus that is extracellular or outside the cell membranes. This has a protective capacity to shield the skeleton from attacks of destructive pests. The genus Madrepora has 14 species and belongs to the order Scleractinia, or "Stony Corals", which contains approximately 1400 recognized species partitioned into 27 families.

See also: Species of previous months

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