Five previously undiscovered cold-water coral reefs have been found in the deep waters off north west Scotland during a recent research survey commissioned by the Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC). For the first time, these five colourful coral reefs, teeming with strange and beautiful creatures, were captured on film.
* Extract Source: JNCC Press Release – Crown copyright material is reproduced with the permission of the Controller of HMSO and the Queen’s Printer for Scotland
News of the discovery of thriving coral reefs along the coast of Scotland in the Atlantic comes as a bit of a surprise but with some amazing promise to learn more about cold water reefs. Found at shocking depths of up to 1,500 metres by a team from the government’s Joint Nature Conservation Committee (JNCC), the unveiling of these reefs have shed a little more light on the relatively unknown deep water coral reefs.
Coral formations have been often associated with tropical climates. With over 284,300 square kilometers of Coral reefs in the Indo- Pacific region including the Red Sea, Indian Ocean, South East Asia and the Pacific, they are said to account for 91.9% of the total reefs around the world. Little is known about deep water coral as the discovery of this type of formation has mostly come from fishing companies and other organizations.
The Deep Water Coral Reefs discovered a mile down of the Scottish Coast are reported to be over a meter high and boast of a wealth of marine life and possible new species lurking in the depths. Judging from the slow growth of cold water coral due to relatively less sunlight and it’s deeper location as compared to the tropical variety of coral, these reefs have probably taken centuries to form.
The team is said to have taken extensive footage and images of the newly discovered reefs which are in pristine condition, untouched by human impact. Further studies of both the coral and the realm of marine life it holds will help us better understand the nature of this type of coral. The reefs will also be placed under protection with actions from the government based on reports, to ban deep-water bottom trawling especially in the area.
The reefs support a wide diversity of marine life, such as sponges, starfish, sea urchins, crabs, and deep-sea fish including the blue ling, round-nosed grenadier, and orange roughy. WWF and other organizations have highlighted the damaging impacts that deep-water trawlers are having on the corals, with huge areas of the seabed being dredged and scarred.