Help Needed Curating Coral Observations

There are currently 500+ observations of Indo-Pacific octocorals that are stuck in taxonomic limbo. For many of these, this is due to a recent reclassification of the group, which drastically reshuffled families and genera about. Given the many limitations iNaturalist imposes on the curation community (particularly those focused on marine ecosystems), there has been no effective means to fix these, aside from tediously going through them one by one and manually updating the IDs. Naturally, all of the old agreeing IDs now stand in the way of progress.

Sadly, I am more often than not the only person on here actively IDing this group, which makes it impossible to fix this mess on my own. It’s impractical/ineffective for me to tag users on every observation, and I’ve already directly contacted the few users qualified to ID these corals.

I’ve also already gone through and added IDs to all 500+ of these observations. Some are stuck at their appropriate taxonomic level, but most can be improved to family or genus-level. All that’s needed is for a few users to systematically go through and help push the IDs.

So, please, help a coral nerd out. Feel free to tag me with any questions on these.


I would love to help/learn more about corals, its often something I struggle to identify, but I simply don’t know enough about the group to feel comfortable Identifying observations (or even agreeing with IDs that are probably correct). Are there any books or websites to help with the group?

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yes, I wrote one.
I’m happy to send a pdf of it to anyone willing to help.
just shoot me a message if interested.


There are folks collaborating on identifying Needs ID and Unkowns on this thread. I posted a link to this thread there.

Something similar had to be done with several thousand observations of a newly identified parasitic fungus species that was previously lumped in a species complex. In that case the obligate host species was easy to ID so I was able to help with that, in spite of knowing little about fungi.

I’d be willing to give corals a try but I’ll need that pdf and probably some coaching.


I’d suggest posting a link to these observations in Identify, which will facilitate anyone trying to help. I think this link does the job, but let me know if it’s not right.


Glad to see the enthusiastic help thus far. We’ve dropped down to 450+ observations.

btw, a huge chunk of these are gorgonians from the family Plexauridae which have now been moved into Paramuriceidae. they’re very easy corals to recognize at the family-level. here’s a good example of one.

arborescent colony shape (flat, bushy, or twig-like)… moderately thick branches… usually colorful.


Thanks. I’ll get started on this.

As a aside, I’m going to be diving Cayo Largo this winter. Maybe I’ll know what I’m looking at this time.


Unfortunately I don´t know much about cnidarians. I was only able to help with 3 or 4 from the red sea…but in this region there was not much help needed

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There not much faunal overlap with the Indo-Pacific, but higher-level taxa are comparable. Beginners tend to struggle with the basics of stony coral vs octocoral vs sea anemone, etc.

Understood. As you probably noticed when IDing some of my blurry GoPro images from last year, I’m still at a point where anything approaching species-level IDs are not generally advisable, other than for the cosmopolitan and obvious stuff. Happy to have an opportunity to learn more.


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