Deep Sea News

Instant Anthozoa

There is so much happening in the field of deep-sea coral research right now that there is no way to cover everything in detail without cheating you out of some of the excitement, so I’ll list it all in a couple posts and let you pick through it over the holidays. This assumes you’re interested, of course.

I really hope you are interested, because Craig tells me he’s going away for a week over Christmas, leaving me to “let it snow, let it snow,” so as far as I am concerned, it’s Instant Anthozoa here at DSN. If that makes you uneasy, Craig has a few ghost-posts in store, so please don’t flee.

I’ll post some of my old favorites and try to finish up a series of posts called “5 ways deep corals are like shallow corals.” The series started waaay back in early 2006, and it’s about time to bring that little project to a flourish.

The quote of the week for deep-sea coral research goes to Dr. Lance Morgan of Marine Conservation Biology Institute.

“Few people, even marine scientists, know that the majority of coral species live in the deeper, colder, and darker depths of the ocean…”

That’s it in a nutshell, folks. If you love corals, you should love them all. Love them all the way to the bottom of the sea, where they are out of sight, and too long out of mind.

By the numbers:

Depth record for a scleractinian cup coral:
6328m, Fungiacyathus marenzelleri in Kamchatka Trench; recorded by N. Keller, 1976.

Depth record for a gorgonian coral:
5850m, Convexella krampi, a primnoid from the Kermadec Trench

Depth record for a pennatulid sea pen:
6100m, Umbellula lindahli, Atlantic, Indopacific, Antarctic; recorded by Grasshoff (1981: 958).

Depth record for a black coral:
8600m, Bathypathes patula, Pacific Kurile-Kamchatka and Aleutian trenches; recorded by Pasternak (1977)

Statistics from Dr. Stephen Cairns, Curator of Invertebrate Zoology, Smithsonian NMNH; Dr. Gary Williams, Curator, California Academy of Sciences; and Mercer Brugler, doctoral student, Univ. of Lousiana, Lafayette.


  1. #1 Christina Kellogg
    December 20, 2007

    “5 ways deep corals are like shallow corals”

    Oooooooh, oooooh, is one of them that they both have complex microbial communities associated with them? 😉

  2. #2 Mercer R. Brugler
    December 20, 2007

    No mention of the record-holding black corals?? You may want to add this little statistic to your list:

    8,600m (Bathypathes patula – from the Pacific Kurile-Kamchatka and Aleutian trenches; Pasternak 1977)

  3. #3 kevin z
    December 20, 2007

    Yay Cnidaria!!

    We should announce Christmas week Anthozoa Week on DSN and TO95!

  4. #4 Peter Etnoyer
    December 20, 2007

    Brilliant, Kevin! Let’s do it.

    Mercer, Christina, if you send me something on the theme (no matter how trivial) I’ll post it.

    I’m working on a surprise for Christmas….

  5. #5 Peter Etnoyer
    December 20, 2007

    Thanks for the update, Mercer. I’ll keep this list updated for posterity (or for Google, whichever comes first).

  6. #6 Les Watling
    December 23, 2007

    Not only are deep corals more abundant than shallow corals, they are more diverse. Also, after our Jason diving trip in the Aleutians in 2004, we came away convinced there are more corals in Alaska than in Hawaii. At 4000 m there were often on chrysogorgiid (genus Radicipes) per 2-3 sq m.

  7. #7 kevin z
    December 24, 2007

    That very interesting. In Rogers (1999) he described the shannon index and other diversity metrices from published research on Lophelia pertusa reef communities off of northern Europe. The number were well within the range or higher than many shallow habitats, including tropical coral reefs. I am curious to how similar the mechanisms determining community structure are at shallow versus deep reefs. Maybe this should be looked at in the tropical indo-pacific where you can compare shallow and deep reefs in relatively closer confines and conduct the same quantitative sampling and experimental protocols.

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