A team of researchers led by the NOAA say they have discovered a new species of coral located deep off the coast of California. This novel species may provide new insight about the ecosystems of deep-sea life, as most corals traditionally serve as a valuable refuge for marine life.

The NOAA expedition took place back in September, and investigated the deep underwater canyons in the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries found off the Sonoma coast.

A small fleet of submersibles were involved in the project - the crafts of a host of federal and state scientific institutes. Video, photography, and a number of mapping techniques were also used in an effort to better understand these maze-like regions, which can reach up to nearly 1,000 feet deep.

It was during one of multiple dives that a team, led by California Academy of Sciences' Gary Williams, found deep-sea corals at about 600 feet below the ocean's surface. They were quickly identified as members of the Leptogorgia genus. However, unique differences in their four-inch-long, rope-like structure marked them as something never-before-seen.

Maria Brown, the superintendant of the Farallones marine sanctuary, where the coral was found, says that this is exciting news, as the discovery of a new species may help pull back some of the mystery of the deep sea.

"Data on these life forms helps determine the extent and ecological importance of deep-sea communities and the threats they face," she explained in a statement. "Effective management of these ecosystems requires science-based information on their condition."

Unlike their close-to-shore tropical counterparts, deep sea coral are still a relatively new subject of study for scientists around the world, despite the fact that they are no-doubt crucial members of deep water ecosystems. There is still a great deal experts hope to learn from them.

Nature World News previously reported how researchers studying deep-sea "cold water corals" just discovered that these species choose to co-exist and support one another rather than act like their tropical cousins, who are in a constant competition for prime sea floor real estate.