More Coral Reefs Discovered Off Ireland

The reefs are located in waters up to 1.2 kilometers deep.

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This coral reef found at 1.2 kilometers off the coast of Ireland. Photo by Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), and the National University of Ireland Galway
John Virata

For the second time this year, Researchers searching off the coast of Ireland have discovered four deep water coral reefs located at depths of about 1.2 kilometers, according to The Herald. They employed an underwater robot with a video camera to document the corals during a two week expedition in the waters west of Ireland. In June 2015, scientists discovered coral reefs at Moira Mounds and Porcupine Bank Canyon in waters more than 700 meters below the surface.

The researchers, from Plymouth University, the Centre for Environment, Fisheries and Aquaculture Science (Cefas), and the National University of Ireland Galway (NUI Galway) used a modeling system that predicts coral occurrence according to conditions that are favorable to corals and were excited when the data bore four coral reefs.

“We’re delighted with these results,” said project lead Dr Kerry Howell, associate professor in the School of Marine Science and Engineering at Plymouth University.  “It means we can now produce maps of where coral is likely to be for large areas of the deep-sea that we have not yet visited, and use them to identify high value ecological areas that might need protection from damaging activities.”

The modeling system employs the use of multi beam technology that uses sound in an effort to “visualize” the ocean floor. The researchers also used Irish National Seabed Survey high resolution bathymetric charts to develop models that were tested during the survey that yielded the reefs. The maps that were created from the project will form the basis for a research paper the scientists are writing. The maps will also be available for everyone to use.

“Our cold water coral reef models are now good enough to be used to better target areas that have not previously been explored, and this can greatly reduce the cost of future survey work,” Howell said.

John Virata has been keeping fish since he was 10 years old.  He currently keeps an 80 gallon cichlid tank, a 20 gallon freshwater community tank and a 29 gallon BioCube with a Percula clown, a huge blue green chromis, and a firefish all in his kitchen, and a 55 gallon FOWLR tank with a pair of Ocellaris clowns, two blue green chromis, a six line wrasse, a peppermint shrimp, assorted algae and a few aiptasia anemones in his living room. Follow him on Twitter @johnvirata

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Fish · Saltwater Fish