August 20, 2013
The Habitat Ecology Team has produced a new report "A Characterization of the Christmas Tree Black Coral (Anthipathes dendrochristos) Community on Three Seamounts in the Southern California Bight from a Survey using a Manned Submersible".
Visual surveys were conducted using the Dual DeepWorker 2-person submersible in 72-437 m depth on Hidden Reef, Footprint, and Piggy Bank. We identified at least 20 taxa of corals (with densities up to 148 corals per 1,000 m2) and 17 taxa of sponges (densities up to 343 sponges per 1,000 m2). Christmas trees, the primnoid Plumarella longispina, and Lophelia pertusa were among the most dense corals. Christmas tree black corals occurred only on rocky substrata. Most of these colonies were small (900 cm2), but some were > 2,100 cm2 in area. Over 80% of these corals were healthy. Very few fishes were associated with black corals, and most of these were dead or dying colonies. Data, maps, and models of Christmas tree coral distribution will help researchers and managers understand habitat requirements of these corals and to prioritize areas for future field work and protection.
Download the report (PDF, 6 MB)
Contact: SWFSC Fisheries Ecology Division, Habitat Ecology Team