Deepest Deep-Sea Coral Discovered

Written by on January 7, 2013 in Coral Reefs, Marine Life
Ribbon Reef, Australia.

Ribbon Reef, Australia. Photo credit: oemebamo via photopin cc

While mapping the Great Barrier Reef, a team of Australian scientists and their deep-sea robot discovered coral in astonishingly deep waters.

At Ribbon Reef at the edge of the Australian continental shelf, the team from the University of Queensland’s Seaview Survey discovered coral 125 meters (410 feet) below the surface.

The Catlin Seaview Survey is the first comprehensive study documenting the health of the reefs in the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef.

Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, chief scientist on the project, explained that before this discovery, coral had only been found as deep as 70 meters. Finding corals even deeper, where almost no light reaches the reef, raises some interesting questions about coral reproduction and growth, among other things.

“What’s really cool is that these corals still have photosynthetic symbionts that supposedly still harvest the light,” said Hoegh-Guldberg. “It’s interesting to know how they can handle such low light conditions – it’s very deep dusk, you can barely make out much at the bottom.”

In addition to reproduction, the team is looking at the impact of ocean acidification and warming on deeper reefs.

The deep sea survey is “just showing that we do have rich communities that can reach into the deep water,” said Hoegh-Guldberg. “We are yet to discover many corners of the Earth.”

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Copyright © 2013 by Marine Science Today, a publication of Marine Science Today LLC.

About the Author

About the Author: Emily Tripp is the Publisher and Editor of MarineScienceToday.com. She holds marine science and biology degrees from the University of Miami's Rosenstiel School of Marine and Atmospheric Science and a Master of Advanced Studies degree in Marine Biodiversity and Conservation from Scripps Institution of Oceanography. When she's not writing about marine science, she's probably running around outside or playing with her dog. .

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