Huge previously-undetected coral reef off US East Coast

Earlier this year, scientists were surprised to discover a huge forest of coldwater corals off the coast of South Carolina. A scientist aboard the expedition discusses the find.

Scientists from the August 2018 Deep Search expedition discuss the significance of finding a huge, previously undetected deepwater coral reef off the U.S. East Coast.

By Sandra Brooke, Florida State University

When people think of coral reefs, they typically picture warm, clear waters with brightly colored corals and fishes. But other corals live in deep, dark, cold waters, often far from shore in remote locations. These varieties are just as ecologically important as their shallow water counterparts. They also are just as vulnerable to human activities like fishing and energy production.

Earlier this year I was part of a research expedition conducted by the Deep Search project, which is studying little-known deep-sea ecosystems off the southeast U.S. coast. We were exploring areas that had been mapped and surveyed by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) research ship Okeanos.

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