Think of coral reefs and you imagine warm, shallow tropical seas, not the cold, dark waters of the deep ocean. Now the deep ocean's best-kept secrets are being revealed - ancient coral ecosystems hidden from view at great depths. Lophelia.org is an information resource on the cold-water coral ecosystems of the deep ocean.

October 24, 2014, 2:58 am

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Cold-water corals on the Meso-American barrier reef



NOAA's Deep Coral & Associated Species Taxonomy & Ecology (DeepCAST) II Expedition led by Dr. Peter Etnoyer explored depths below the Meso-American Reef in Roatán, Honduras in May 2011.

The team made six submersible dives between 365 and 670 m deep, conducting photo and video transects to estimate coral and sponge diversity and abundance, characterising water chemistry, and collecting corals and molluscs to discern the relationships between corals and their epifauna. Among the highlights of the trip was the first confirmed documentation of live Lophelia pertusa along the Meso-American Reef.