Scientists Find Coral Deeper than Ever in Mexican Gulf
Source: Fish Info and Services
August 13, 2012
"A team of federal and university scientists on a 10-day expedition in the Gulf of Mexico has discovered Lophelia coral growing deeper than previously seen anywhere in the Gulf. Newly available information on Lophelia’s growth rate and conditions will inform future environmental review and decision-making for the protection of deep-water coral habitats.
The overall goal of the mission, which left Freeport, Texas, on 14 July and returned to Pensacola, Florida, on 24 July, was to examine coral ecosystems and related habitats that developed over several decades on or near actively producing deep-ocean oil and gas production platforms. Undersea structures supporting energy production platforms provide some of the scarce hard surfaces in the Gulf, where Lophelia pertusa, a deep cold-water coral that lives where there is no sunlight, can grow.
Scientists imaged corals in both high-definition video and still photography and also took samples for DNA sequencing to better understand the biology, growth and distribution of deep-sea corals. Through cameras on a remotely operated vehicle used to survey coral growth on oil and gas platforms, scientists observed Lophelia coral at a depth of 2,620 ft on undersea structures supporting the Ram Powell platform, which was built in 1997 and is one of the deepest platforms in the Gulf."
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