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International Deep-Sea Corals Workshop

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U.S. Geological Survey (USGS) scientist Kathy Scanlon participated in the International Deep-Sea Corals Workshop in Galway, Ireland, on January 16 and 17. The workshop, which was jointly sponsored by the U.S. National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Irish Marine Institute, brought together about 25 deep-water-coral researchers from the United States, Canada, Ireland, Norway, Sweden, England, Belgium, and Germany to develop plans for future research and international collaboration.

Deep-water corals (also called cold-water corals, deep-sea corals, cool corals, and azooxanthellate corals) occur predominantly in water depths between 100 and 1,000 m, below the photic zone. (The more familiar, zooxanthellate corals thrive in the shallowest parts of the photic zone—generally less than 30 m deep—where there is ample sunlight for photosynthesis by their symbiotic zooxanthellae.) In some places, deep-water corals form spectacular coral mounds and reefs. They have been reported in U.S. waters off Alaska, in the Gulf of Mexico, off eastern Florida, and off New England but have been little studied. Recent research, much of it in Norway, Sweden, Ireland, and Canada, has shown that deep-water corals are important as essential fish habitat, biodiversity hotspots, and climate-change indicators and as potential sources of pharmaceutical compounds. Because they are long-lived, slow-growing, and fragile, they are particularly vulnerable to impacts from such human activities as trawling and oil and gas development.

Three major themes were discussed during the workshop:

  1. Mapping and characterizing deep-water corals and their habitats
  2. Biology of deep-water-coral ecosystems
  3. Paleoclimate research

Preliminary plans were made for several collaborative international projects, including a major multinational, circum-North Atlantic series of cruises designed to locate and study deep-water-coral habitats and bring attention to their importance to fishery issues, biodiversity, and ecosystem function.

Related Web Sites
International Deep-Sea Corals Workshop
National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) / Irish Marine Institute

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Research cover story:
Competitive Edge of Invasive Species

Lake Mead Work Continues

Outreach Dolphin Rescue

London Interns Tour St. Pete

Congressional Briefing on Gas Hydrates

Volcanic Ash and Aviation Safety

Science Mentoring

Meetings Coastal Vulnerability

Lidar Data and Technology

International Deep-Sea Corals Workshop

Northeastern Coastal Ecosystems and Resources Workshop

Awards Shinn Wins 2002 Shoemaker Distinguished Achievement Award

Coastal and Marine Scientists Win 2002 Shoemaker Product Excellence Awards

Behrendt and Poag Elected AAAS Fellows

Normark Awarded Keen Medal

Staff & Center News A Tribute to Joe Newell

Marine Geophysics Pioneer Honored

Celebrating Careers of Five Retirees

Manheim Lectures on Trends in Scientific and Technological Innovation

Publications San Francisco Bay Earthquake Hazards

Effectivenes of Marine Reserves in Central California

Human Influence on Diatom Productivity and Sedimentation in Chesapeake Bay

Feb. / Mar. Publications List

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