Cold-Water Corals and Their Newfound Importance

Date: September 20, 2012

Source: Conservation Biology News

Author: olammers1

For most people, the first thing that comes to mind when someone utters the word ‘coral’ are the expansive, highly diverse (and very publicized) tropical coral reefs known for their brightly-colored façades and equally vibrant inhabitants. While these particular underwater landscapes are already fiercely protected by conservation biologists, their cold-water counterparts are not as equally protected.

Cold-water corals are found all over the world, at a variety of depths, and recent research conducted by Sandrine Baillon, Jean-François Hamel,  Vonda E Wareham, and Annie Mercier (affiliated university or research organization not listed) may give us reason to pursue the classification of cold-water corals as an essential fish habitat. (The term ‘essential fish habitat’ refers to “those waters and substrates necessary to fish for spawning, breed- ing, feeding, or growth to maturity” (Rosenberg et al. 2000)”.)

Their study may suggest that cold-water corals serve as a habitat for the larvae of fish that are classified as endangered due to anthropogenic causes such as overfishing, thus giving the conservation biology community just cause to advocate for the protection of cold-water corals.

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