Deep Sea News

Welcome to Coral Week

i-7aff6fcd3c3afea59ca44edc68f77d35-coral4_sm.jpgThis is Coral Week. Not to be confused with International Year of the Reef 2008. The goal of this week is to pull you away from the reef, actually, down into the deeper, darker parts of the ocean where corals still thrive. We want to introduce you to the other corals, the maligned and neglected ones, like the octocorals (aka soft corals, or sea fans), the cup corals, the matrix formers, the black corals, and the zoantharians like the gold corals, which can grow to be 2000 years old. Deep corals hold secrets just like the shallow ones. They have alot in common, actually. We’ll write about that.

You see, technically a reef is a submerged formation big and shallow enough for a ship to hit. Deeper than that, large aggregations of coral (sometimes kilometers across) are called “bioherms” in the case of the scleractinia, and “meadows” or “groves” in the case of gorgonian sea fans. You may already be familiar with these deep-sea corals. Perhaps your grandmother had a red coral necklace, or a black coral bracelet. Perhaps you’re a regular fan of Deep Sea News, and you already know that corals grow in Alaska, Canada, and Maine. If you live near the coast, chances are there’s a coral growing below 200m.

Most of these are axoozanthellate corals, lacking symbiotic algae, but some retain zooxanthellae in very low numbers, harboring algae that’s lost its way, or taking advantage of a photosynthetic pathway we’ve not discovered yet. You can expect lots of facts and speculation, plus peer-reviewed material, and a special series I will premier online here at DSN, then try to move to a journal in the future, as if this was New Yorker magazine or something. The intention being that original science can premiere in the blogosphere.

The general idea of the online event is collaborative. The point is to show that when it comes to the Invertebrate Wars corals are way cooler than either mollusks or echinoderms, because they have their own week! Bwahahahaha. A sleeping contender awakes! I don’t see no Barnacle Week week here anywhere, my friends. ; )

We’ve done theme weeks before for Megavertebrates and for Microbes, and it was a lot of fun. If you have a related post, you can email me at peter dot etnoyer at tamucc dot edu or place a link in the comments section. I’ll try to post two stories a day at least, with links to others. Some stories are authored by friends and colleagues. You’ll find that information in the by-line at the top of the post. Many stories are by professional deep-coral researchers and advocates. Please enjoy, and participate and comment often. As always, thanks for reading.


  1. #1 kevin z
    April 27, 2008

    Oh Barnacle week will sooooo happen my friend!

  2. #2 Luiz Ramos
    April 27, 2008

    Good explanation. Good shots.

  3. #3 Peter
    April 27, 2008

    and surely a month of mighty molluscs, too?

  4. #4 kevin z
    April 27, 2008

    You better be careful or craig will make 2009 the IYOM, International Year of the Mollusk!

  5. #5 Philip H.
    April 28, 2008

    If we’re collecting suggestions for following theme weeks, I have two – scallop week (featuring both biology and recipes) and nudibranch week – those guys don’t catch any breaks ever!

  6. #6 tai haku
    April 28, 2008

    If there’s going to be another one of these competitions I would suggest a few of the soft corals like tubastrea are too awesome to be included in a generic “coral” and should compete separately to give the puny molluscs a chance.

  7. #7 Peter
    April 28, 2008

    The recipes would be a great touch, Philip. I wonder if anyone eats coral.

  8. #8 kevin z
    April 28, 2008

    I don’t know about eating corals, but jellies and anemones have been cooked up. Although, there are coral supplements…

  9. #9 Peter
    April 28, 2008

    Hmm. Perhaps a coral cocktail recipe, then.
    Or a coral smoothie?

  10. #10 Mark Powell
    April 29, 2008

    I’m just a little slow, but blogfish clocks in…

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