Deep Sea Coral Collection Protocols - A Synthesis of Field Experience from Deep-sea Coral Researchers, Designed to Build our National Capacity to Document Deep-sea Coral Diversity
NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-OPR-28
Most of our knowledge about corals comes from shallow water tropical reefs and laboratories. These studies showed us that corals are diverse, delicate, slow-growing, and long-lived. They showed us that reefs are vulnerable to nutrient input, climate change, and destructive fishing gear, but healthy coral reefs can protect coastal communities, and provide habitat for numerous associated species. Yet, corals are not restricted to tropical reefs. Corals grow in many types of seafloor habitats ranging from the shallows to the abyss, and from the equator to the poles (Williams, 1990). Not surprisingly, corals from “the other 90%” of the ocean, the deep-sea (>200m), are still very poorly known and poorly understood. Most of what we know is garnered from early oceanographic expeditions that dragged the seafloor with trawl nets. Dried broken fragments fill museum drawers and scientific literature, but living coral communities from the deep-sea still remain largely unexplored.