Cold Water Corals

Cold-water coral (CWC) habitats have been described as “oases of the deep” (Mullineaux et al., 2004). At 600-1200m water depth (in Irish waters) framework forming corals are environmental engineers that create structural habitats and niches for other organisms (biogenic reefs) (Roberts et al., 2006).

Through this habitat modification, CWC’s form the basis of a process known as taphonomic feedback that develops complex food chains supporting speciose high biomass ecosystems at water depths where life is otherwise relatively scarce (Roberts et al., 2009). Furthermore, in the downward flushing canyon setting, these habitats when extensive (as in the PBC) influence the canyon sedimentary regime thereby affecting adjacent habitats: submarine canyons, even without CWC’s, are renowned as high biomass habitats and fisheries (Dr Leo et al., 2010).