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Thursday
Jan272011

Attenborough and deep sea corals

There’s a new website up that talks about deep sea corals, including one of the species the science team has been studying here in Brazil - Lophelia.  Its even called Lophelia.org and was put together by some Scottish scientists who discovered Lophelia reefs off the coast of Scotland in 2003.  It’s very comprehensive and well worth a visit, and it’s recently earned an endorsement of the doyen of nature documentaries, Sir David Attenborough.  One of the weird things to think about when you click on over is that the same corals that form those reefs in Scotland are forming deep reefs here in Brazil.  How is that possible?  I mean, one is in the chilly North Atlantic, while the other is in the tripical south Atlantic.  Well, if you think about it, once you go deep, it doesn’t matter where you are, it’s always gloomy dark and cold!  For example, even though the surface temperature was in the high 20’s (low 80’s for the US readers) here in Brazil, the temperature down where the sub was going was 7-9 dgrees (around 45).

A Dendrophyllia alternata (originally mislabeled here as Lophelia) colony collected from the Abrolhos platform

The new website is a great resource for learning more about Lophelia and other deep coral reef species and just maybe it will help us all broaden our horizons to start considering coral reefs in a context broader than the insanely colourful shallow reefs that most easily comes to mind when you hear the phrase.

Reader Comments (4)

Isn't it a Madrepora (and not a Lophelia)?! Please check it out.
February 2, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiologist
That's a good question. I thought it was Lophelia but I am not the expert. I will check with the scientists from the cruise
February 2, 2011 | Registered CommenterAl Dove
Well, I checked with Clovis and Débora Castro at the National Museum in Rio (Clovis collected the specimen and Débora is an expert in deep sea corals). Its actually Dendrophyllia alternata, so I was wrong, but its not Madrepora either. The taxonomy hinges on some longitudinal ridges that are not apparent in the photo.
February 3, 2011 | Registered CommenterAl Dove
Thanks for the right information. Much better now! And what about the corals that were kept alive? Are they still alive?
February 3, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBiologist

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