A new species of coral has been discovered growing in the depths of the sea near Coiba Island in the Panamanian Pacific, the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute, or STRI, said.

The discovery was the work of STRI scientist Hector Guzman, a Venezuelan who found and gathered samples of the coral in the first submersible exploration of Hannibal Bank in Coiba National Park and World Heritage Site, an STRI communique said.

Guzman named the coral Eugorgia siedenburgae as a tribute to Joan S. Siedenburg, an American explorer and long-time friend of the Smithsonian Tropical Research Institute.

"This new species name recognizes Siedenburg's special interest in deep-sea exploration and her appreciation for marine life," the scientist said.

During a Smithsonian expedition in March 2012, partly sponsored by Siedenburg, Guzman collected a large sample of the coral from 63 meters (207 feet) deep in the ocean, using a mechanical arm from the DeepSee submersible.

The Eugorgia siedenburgae is a soft, bushy coral that forms bright pink colonies with pale branch-tips and grows on rocks, rubble, coarse sand and mud sediments.

The Panama City-based STRI is a unit of the Smithsonian Institute in Washington and has operated in the Central American country since the mid-20th century. EFE