Subscribe

In the underwater canyons off Northern California, a new species

Using small submersibles, scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration have discovered a new species of coral living in the submarine canyons off the coast of Sonoma County.

  • close
    This Sept. 5, 2014 photo released by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration shows a catshark egg nest showing yellow "mermaids purses," which are sacs containing eggs, found by NOAA researchers off the coast of Sonoma County, Calif. The research team also found a new species of deep-sea white coral. The discoveries were made in September as part of the first intensive exploration of California's offshore areas north of Bodega Head.
    National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration/AP
    View Caption
  • About video ads
    View Caption
of

Scientists have discovered a new species of deep-sea coral in underwater canyons off the Northern California coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

A NOAA research team using small submersibles found the coral in September near national marine sanctuaries off the coast of Sonoma County, the agency said Wednesday.

The coral from the genus Leptogorgia was discovered about 600 feet deep in the first intensive exploration of underwater canyons near the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.

Collecting data on the 4-inch-long white and redcoral will help scientists determine the ecological importance of deep sea communities in the area and the threats they face, said the Farallones sanctuary's superintendent, Maria Brown.

"Deep-sea corals and sponges provide valuable refuge for fish and other marina life," Brown said. "Effective management of these ecosystems requires science-based information on their condition."

Before the research expedition two months ago, scientists knew little about the marine life in the area, NOAA said.

After multiple dives in the area, researchers also found a "highly unusual" nursery area for catsharks.

"This is a highly unusual nursery because rarely, if ever, are shark nurseries in the same area as skate nurseries," said Peter Etnoyer, a deep-sea biologist at NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Submarine canyons often extend from the continental shelf to the deep sea, and exploring them can be difficult.

The research team that made the discoveries conducted video surveys of areas that had been only documented through sonar imaging.

Copyright 2014 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

About these ads
Sponsored Content by LockerDome
 
 
Make a Difference
Inspired? Here are some ways to make a difference on this issue.
FREE Newsletters
Get the Monitor stories you care about delivered to your inbox.
 

We want to hear, did we miss an angle we should have covered? Should we come back to this topic? Or just give us a rating for this story. We want to hear from you.

Loading...

Loading...

Loading...

Save for later

Save
Cancel

Saved ( of items)

This item has been saved to read later from any device.
Access saved items through your user name at the top of the page.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You reached the limit of 20 saved items.
Please visit following link to manage you saved items.

View Saved Items

OK

Failed to save

You have already saved this item.

View Saved Items

OK