Featured Article 24 Jun 2015

Earlier in June, Siliconrepublic.com reported on the team aboard the MV Celtic Explorer, which has been scanning the seabed along the route taken to lay the world’s first transatlantic cable back in 1857 as part of its efforts to map the ocean’s seabed, and now it has made a rather major discovery.

With the original research mission now concluded, the research team has written a blog detailing the coral findings, having come across it while exploring the Porcupine Bank Canyon as part of its QuERCi survey (Quantifying EnviRonmental Controls on Cold-water coral reef growth).

Describing its find as “spectacular”, the team came across several 20-30m wide carbonate coral mounds in the area referred to as the Moira Mounds.

Amazed at the sheer abundance of coral

In some places 1km below sea level, the area where cold-water coral thrives can reach gigantic levels, with the team discovering coral carbonate mounds more than 100m tall, which team member Graham Ryan described as “oases of life in the deep ocean supporting vibrant ecosystems”.

However, Ryan said, the team were surprised to find so much coral upon entering the Porcupine Bank Canyon at depths of up to 700m, particularly black coral, while rinoids were found on glacial dropstones and sea pens and anemones were found inhabiting the soft muddy seabed.

“We were amazed with the sheer abundance and beauty of the cold-water coral reefs that we visited and it’s been an absolute privilege to get a first-hand look into this usually unseen ecosystem,” Ryan said.

Colm Gorey

This article was originally published on www.siliconrepublic.com and can be found at:

https://www.siliconrepublic.com/discovery/2015/06/24/irish-coral-reef-discovered-off-kerry-coast-a-total-surprise

Slea Head, Co Kerry image via Shutterstock

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