Help Support the Race to Save Deep-sea Corals
Like their shallow-water cousins, deep-sea corals and sponges create large structures that support rich and abundant communities of fish and other invertebrates, many of commercial importance.
Deep-sea corals and sponges grow slowly and live a long time – a black coral like the one pictured above was found to be over 4,200 years old, and thousand year-old individuals are common.
These “old-growth forests of the deep ocean” are very vulnerable to bottom-contact fishing, especially trawling, which can destroy an ecosystem that has been in place for millennia.
The waters off the US West Coast still contain large colonies of corals and sponges, along with a myriad of other organisms that depend on them. The challenge is to find these communities before they’re destroyed.
To help protect the remaining coral and sponge habitats of the Pacific coast, MARE is combining our existing exploration capability with sophisticated machine learning algorithms to pioneer efficient new methods of locating and documenting these vital ocean places.