[Coral-List] deep "coral oases"

Mallory Cecile Ringham mcringha at syr.edu
Thu Sep 17 18:38:08 UTC 2020

Just wanted to say thanks to Felix on the history of deep coral naming! I’ve only recently entered this field and am not from a biological background—I’ve been investigating chemical variations across deep reefs via a new carbon sensor strapped to an ROV. It’s been pretty fascinating to catch up with the state of deep coral research, and I’ve really appreciated insights on the coral mailing list, especially those that set up the historical context of the language we use!

Mallory Ringham
mcringha at mit.edu
PhD Candidate, MIT/WHOI Joint Program in Chemical Oceanography
M.S. Earth Sciences 2015, Syracuse University
B.S. Physics & Chemical Engineering 2013, Syracuse University


Message: 1
Date: Wed, 16 Sep 2020 13:47:15 -0400
From: Felix Martinez - NOAA Federal <felix.martinez at noaa.gov>
To: Brian Walker <walkerb at nova.edu>
Cc: "coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov" <coral-list at coral.aoml.noaa.gov>
Subject: Re: [Coral-List] deep "coral oases"
        <CAGV9nxSD-U__Cwc9ZFmbgYo4jMYaK9T2bqtT8UuDA6re4akROQ at mail.gmail.com>
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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.

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