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Discoveries Highlighted in Deep Sea Coral Report to Congress

Stunning photos of marine life accompany the latest research of deep-sea coral in the report.

NOAA Fisheries released the 2012 Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program Biennial Report to Congress.

This report highlights the program’s exciting discovery of deep-sea coral habitats, which revealed new and currently unprotected deep-sea coral communities off the eastern and southern coasts of Florida. These fragile habitats are home to a wide variety of species, including commercially important ones.  

Coral Report Collaborative Effort

The research, developed in consultation with the South Atlantic Fishery Management Council, was made possible through collaboration with academic partners, non-governmental organizations, and other federal agencies.

In addition to the discoveries off the southeastern U.S., scientists are exploring deep-sea coral and sponge habitats off the West Coast, documenting their importance for fish, and providing key information to fishery and National Marine Sanctuary managers.

Accompanying the details of the fieldwork are stunning photos of this unique marine life in all regions of the United States and the progress made in our nationwide research over the past two years.

The Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program provides scientific information needed to conserve and manage deep-sea coral ecosystems. NOAA is committed to increasing the scientific understanding of these rich and valuable ecosystems and making it available to ocean resource managers to inform conservation actions.

Deepening Our Knowledge   

Begun in 2009, the Deep Sea Coral Research and Technology Program is the nation’s only federal research program dedicated to increasing scientific understanding of deep-sea coral ecosystems and is designed to provide ocean resource managers with scientific studies to inform conservation actions. The research findings described in the report are already being used by decision-makers in the conservation of deep-sea coral in U.S. waters.

Deep-sea coral are especially vulnerable to human activities that disturb the sea floor. (e.g., bottom trawling, energy exploration and development, and the deployment of cables or pipelines.) Recovery from damage to deep-sea corals may take decades—or even centuries—because most species grow extremely slowly.

In spite of recent efforts and more than a decade of research by other partners, deep-sea coral ecosystems in the United States remain poorly understood and many still unexplored. Our program leverages expertise and resources available across NOAA to cost-effectively explore these mysterious communities and provide information to ocean resource managers to conserve them.