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Scientist Makes Improbable Deep-Sea Coral Discovery in North Pacific

Source: Phys.org/Florida State University - July 17, 2017 in Science/Tech

Scientist Makes Improbable Deep-Sea Coral Discovery in North Pacific
Photo: Ellmax Photos

Scientists have long believed that the waters of the Central and Northeast Pacific Ocean were inhospitable to deep-sea scleractinian coral, but a Florida State University professor’s discovery of an odd chain of reefs suggests there are mysteries about the development and durability of coral colonies yet to be uncovered.

Associate Professor of Earth, Ocean and Atmospheric Science Amy Baco-Taylor, in collaboration with a team from Texas A&M University, observed these reefs during an autonomous underwater vehicle survey through the seamounts of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands.

In an article published today in the journal Scientific Reports, Baco-Taylor and her team document these reefs and discuss possible explanations for their appearance in areas considered impossibly hostile to reef-forming scleractinia, whose communities are formed by small, stony polyps that settle on the seabed and grow bony skeletons to protect their soft bodies.

“I’ve been exploring the deep-sea around the Hawaiian Archipelago since 1998, and I’d seen enough to know that the presence of these reefs at these depths was definitely unexpected,” Baco-Taylor said.

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