September 1, 2014, 3:30 am

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Angola

New discoveries of living corals

In 1990 Lophelia pertusa was reported off west Africa by Zibrowius and Gili, but only dead fragments were collected. Although cold-water corals in this region are still poorly known, working with oil companies that operate off these shores has led to the very first discovery of living, lush Lophelia reefs.

These exciting discoveries were described by Le Guilloux and others in 2009 during the research programme BIOZAIRE I. Researchers from the Institut Fran├žais de Recherche pour l'Exploitation de la Mer (IFREMER) and the Museum National d'Histoire Naturelle used coral records and multibeam data from the oil company Total and detailed geophysical surveys during the ZAIANGO project to document thriving Lophelia-structured coral reef communities inhabiting the region just south of the continental shelf off Angola, about 400 m deep. Cold-water coral reefs up to 30 m high and 300 m wide were found in a small area of about 12 km2 . Video from the ROV Victor 6000 showed thick living coral cover at the summit, which graded into coral rubble/dead coral along the mound flanks.