Dr Aaron Lim / University College Cork

IRE - New Study Finds Corals Surviving in Extreme Conditions Within Irelands Largest Submarine Canyon

New research, led by Dr Aaron Lim (UCC), investigates the extreme conditions at which Irish cold-water corals are growing offshore Ireland.

One of the main findings show that the corals can survive at current speeds of up to 114 cm/s, the highest current speed ever recorded in a cold water coral habitat. The study represents the success of recent technological advances in Irish deep marine research and will be used to determine how these vulnerable marine ecosystems may respond to changing environmental conditions.

“These cold-water corals are growing at the very edge of a near-vertical cliff face, in Irelands largest submarine canyon some 850 m below the surface in very intense conditions. They’re quite literally living on the edge” explains Dr Lim.

Cold-water corals help to form deep-water reefs and mounds which can range in height from as little as 10 m to over 100 m. Some coral mounds have existed offshore Ireland for 2.6 million years. The Porcupine Bank Canyon, the area explored during the study shows cold-water corals thriving in a range of deep marine settings. “Some of these habitats were predominantly alive, while others were mostly dead and so the aim of the study was to understand what is driving this?” explains Dr Lim.

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