[Coral-List] deep "coral oases"

Felix Martinez - NOAA Federal felix.martinez at noaa.gov
Wed Sep 16 17:47:15 UTC 2020


Your message and this discussion reminds me when we at NOAA's NCCOS
Competitive Research Program (many will know it as CSCOR, our acronym then)
first decided to sponsor research on what we called then "deep coral
reefs." We held the first session ever focused solely on this systems at
the AMLC meeting in St. Thomas. While there, two things were pointed out.
One that the term deep was not very useful or descriptive and would confuse
them with the true deep corals.The other thing was that the term reef was
inaccurate because it does not fit the formal definition of a reef.

Soon thereafter, we held a workshop hosted by the Perry Institute to
determine what was known then about these zones that are typically too deep
for regular SCUBA and too shallow for submersible work. and where the
research needs we should focus on. Another naming complication that came up
during the workshop was the issue that at those depths, sponges are not
only common but can indeed be the dominant taxonomic group. We also learned
that the depths coincided with what is considered the mesophotic zone...
not too bright and not too dark. Coming with a proper name quickly became a
pressing issue while at the workshop.

Remembering the St. Thomas meeting and with new gained knowledge during the
workshop my boss then (Mike Dowgiallo) and I came up with the term *mesophotic
ecosystems*. It avoided the use of "deep" term issue, reflected light as a
system driver to distinguish them from the shallow coral reefs and was
inclusive on non-corals However  we realized that name will not be
sufficient to attract the attention of NOAA leadership, the coral focused
environmental community, but more important... Congress! So, we threw the
word *coral *back in.

At the end of the workshop, we proposed the name to the participants and
even voted on it. The vote was unanimous and thus was formally born the
field of *mesophotic coral ecosystems* research.

On Wed, Sep 16, 2020 at 12:29 PM Brian Walker via Coral-List <
coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> wrote:

> I think this is why some have adopted the term Deep Sea Coral Ecosystems
> (DCEs). One thing I find fascinating about deep coral communities is that
> some of the large black corals like Leiopathes can be over 4000 years old.
> So although they may not contribute much to accretion because of their slow
> growth, they provide habitat for thousands of years!
> Best regards,
> Brian K. Walker | Research Scientist II
> GIS & Spatial Ecology Laboratory
> Halmos College of Arts and Sciences
> Nova Southeastern University
> 8000 N. Ocean Drive, Dania Beach, FL 33004
> (954) 262-3675
> Links:
> Publications
> GIS & Spatial Ecology Lab Page
> Coral Disease Intervention Dashboard
> OFR Marine Planner
> -----Original Message-----
> From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> On Behalf Of
> Alina Szmant via Coral-List
> Sent: Wednesday, September 16, 2020 8:04 AM
> To: Douglas Fenner <douglasfennertassi at gmail.com>
> Cc: coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov
> Subject: Re: [Coral-List] deep "coral oases"
> NSU Security WARNING: This is an external email. Do not click links or
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> Hi Doug:
> Well done. This could have been right out of the introductory lecture from
> my coral reef ecology course, which I taught for almost 30 years! I
> especially like that you clarify the 'shallow enough to be hit by a boat'
> part (most REEFS around the world are made up of non-coral rocks, not coral
> limestone), the term bioherm for deeper accumulations of biogenic skeletal
> matter (algae such as Halimeda form bioherms, e.g. Marquesas between Key
> West and Dry Tortugas; many places along the Great Barrier Reef in deep
> passes between coral reefs), and that a true coral reef needs to be
> accretional in nature not just scattered corals (i.e. net calcification >
> 1; limestone deposition > bioerosion). Some places that could form coral
> reefs don't because of the high rates of bioerosion (e.g. some upwelling
> zones).
> It is important that the growth history of any particular structure being
> considered for designation as a coral reef be carefully considered. I
> recall an article from years ago where a new volcanic outcrop was quickly
> colonized by corals. This could have been a founding event for a coral
> reef, but just high coral cover does not equal a coral reef.
> Best,
> Alina
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> Dr. Alina M. Szmant, CEO
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> -----Original Message-----
> From: Coral-List <coral-list-bounces at coral.aoml.noaa.gov> On Behalf Of
> Douglas Fenner via Coral-List
> Sent: Tuesday, September 15, 2020 6:13 PM
> To: coral list <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
> Subject: [Coral-List] deep "coral oases"
> Deep beneath the high seas, researchers find rich coral oases
> https://nam01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.sciencemag.org%2Fnews%2F2020%2F09%2Fdeep-beneath-high-seas-researchers-find-rich-coral-oases&data=02%7C01%7Cwalkerb%40nova.edu%7C428f51ec3e084396fe7508d85a4bfcbb%7C2c2b2d312e3e4df1b571fb37c042ff1b%7C1%7C0%7C637358629693757507&sdata=IvvcPuZtVIjOMIsJ4znZTmCji%2BCQdaKngZT41m37I5c%3D&reserved=0
> Notice the title says "coral oases" not "coral reefs" and does not say
> "hard corals," but does say "rich."
> There are a number of distinctions that some popular articles such as this
> one tend to gloss over, and they tend to talk in ways that may lead people
> to assume that these places are similar to shallow tropical coral reefs,
> but that comparison is strained at best.  So, the original meaning of the
> word "reef" is a structure that is near the water surface that a boat can
> hit.  These are not reefs, they are in deep water.  Second, a coral reef
> would be a reef built by coral.  There are deep sea structures built by
> coral, some a few hundred feet tall and can be a mile or more long.  The
> most famous of which are in the fjords of Norway, but others are scattered
> around the world.  They are better termed "bioherms" since they are
> constructed by organisms, but don't get close to the surface.  People
> sometimes talk about their high diversity, but usually the construction is
> built by only one species of coral, while many shallow tropical coral reefs
> have hundreds of species of corals on them.  Plus, in the whole world,
> there are only a few species of coral that can build deep water
> constructions, maybe less than 10, and most or all are thin branching.  I
> suspect, but don't know for a fact, that the diversity of other organisms
> inhabiting them are also much lower than most shallow water tropical coral
> reefs.  But much of what they are probably talking about here are "coral
> communities" or ecosystems, as they are not constructional, there is no
> geological structure built by them  The photograph for this article shows
> many gorgonians, or octocorals, which can also be called soft corals, and
> which do not build calcium structures (surprisingly, there are
> non-gorgonian soft corals on shallow tropical coral reefs that add to the
> geological structure, in a few places their contribution can actually be
> greater to the construction than "hard corals" like Scleractinia).  Looks
> like there is at least one that may be a black coral, a group which also
> does not build coral reefs.  Among the hard corals, most are
> "scleractinia".  On shallow water tropical coral reefs, most scleractinia
> are zooxantellate, colonial and many large, and most contribute to building
> the geological structure, which can be up to at least 1.6 km (one mile)
> thick, depending on how long it has been building.  Scleractinian corals do
> certainly live in deep and/or cold water, and there are about as many
> species known that do that as on coral reefs.  They are all
> azooxanthellate, most are solitary and small, and by far most of them do
> not build any structures other than their own skeleton.  Often they are
> scattered.  That doesn't mean that they aren't interesting or important,
> just different.
>      So deep water or cold water coral bioherms are interesting, part of
> our world, as are deep water hard and soft coral communities.  They are
> generally less studied because they are much more difficult and expensive
> to access and study, and they are not restricted to warm, shallow water.
>       I don't study them, I'm not an expert on them, so those that are,
> please correct me if I'm wrong about this.
>      Cheers, Doug
> --
> Douglas Fenner
> Lynker Technologies, LLC, Contractor
> NOAA Fisheries Service
> Pacific Islands Regional Office
> Honolulu
> and:
> Consultant
> PO Box 7390
> Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799  USA
> The toxic effects of air pollution are so bad that moving from fossil
> fuels to clean energy would pay for itself in health-care savings and
> productivity gains <
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> >
>> even if climate change didn’t exist.  In the US alone, decarbonization
> would save 1.4 MILLION lives in the US alone.  And save $700 Billion a year.
> https://nam01.safelinks.protection.outlook.com/?url=https%3A%2F%2Fwww.vox.com%2Fenergy-and-environment%2F2020%2F8%2F12%2F21361498%2Fclimate-change-air-pollution-us-india-china-deaths&data=02%7C01%7Cwalkerb%40nova.edu%7C428f51ec3e084396fe7508d85a4bfcbb%7C2c2b2d312e3e4df1b571fb37c042ff1b%7C1%7C0%7C637358629693757507&sdata=44JKV09Lv1Nvb0b%2FTBWEQLodS234PxHHoqF7o7trDi0%3D&reserved=0
> "mitigating climate change is the critical wedge to set coral reefs on a
> recovery trajectory"  Duarte et al 2020 Rebuilding marine life Nature
> "Already, more people die  <
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> >from
> heat-related causes in the U.S. than from all other extreme weather
> events."
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Felix A. Martinez, Ph.D.

Program Manager

NOS/NCCOS/Competitive Research Program

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration

4840 South State Rd.; Ann Arbor, MI 48108

email: Felix.Martinez at noaa.gov

ph: 734-741-2254; fax: 734-741-2055

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