Coral in the deep seas

Much of the surface of our planet is covered with water. We know quite a lot about the top layer, but comparatively little about the ocean depths. The creatures in this display case live just under or just above the surface. Organisms living there vary from microscopic algae to vast whales. Deeper than 200 metres, no sunlight can penetrate and creatures survive by preying on each other or feeding on dead algae and other organisms.

The Royal Netherlands Institute for Sea Research (NIOZ) has conducted research on the Galicia Bank in the Atlantic Ocean northwest of Spain. This green rack was lowered to a depth of 770 metres holding a coral 'garden'. The presence of colony-forming coral had been discovered at this depth in 1997. The reefs can be as much as one metre high and ten metres long.

Six months later, the rack was hauled up, examined and then sunk into position again. The coral, Lophelia proved to have attracted a huge number of other organisms. The purpose of the research was to assess the consequences of a switch to fishing in deeper waters.

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