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.
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.
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