A survey of underwater canyons off the U.S. East Coast found a number of previously unknown hotspots for deep-sea corals.
The survey took place over a two-week stretch in July. Researchers aboard the National Oceanographic and Atmospheric Administration's Henry B. Bigelow ship looked for corals in submarine canyons off New Jersey, and connected to Georges Bank, a large elevated area of seafloor about 60 miles (100 kilometers) offshore that stretches as far south as Cape Cod, Mass., and north to Nova Scotia.
The researchers took thousands of photographs of the coral using a remotely operated camera towed behind the ship. The corals observed live at depths between 650 and 6,500 feet (200 to 2,000 meters). Although no specimens were collected during this expedition, the thousands of images taken will be analyzed in the coming months to determine what types of coral live there.
More than 70 deepwater canyons, ranging in depth from 330 to 11,500 feet (100 to 3,500 m), exist along the Northeast's continental shelf and slope. Few are well studied, and many are likely home to as yet undiscovered life-forms.