Distribution of cold-water corals (Order Alcyonacea) in Jordan Basin, Gulf of Maine NW Atlantic

The occurrence and density of cold-water corals (Order: Alcyonacea) in the Gulf of Maine (northwestern Atlantic) were investigated by conducting video surveys along transects in areas with a high probability of coral occurrence. Surveys in 2013 were carried out using a towed camera system. Based on coral observations during the surveys eight tows of western Jordan Basin were given priority for analysis. The occurring coral species are Primnoa resedaeformis, Paramuricea placomus and Acanthogorgia armata. The surveyed areas have a complex topography at 200-250m depth. The substrate ranges from fine sediments like clay to boulders and rock outcrops. Image area was estimated based on the use of 20cm spaced parallel laser dots. This was not done for images of sloped bottoms. Coral densities are higher on steep and vertical rock surfaces compared to other areas nearby with less vertical relief. The highest coral density found was 80.6 colonies m-2 on rock outcrops. Commonly found during the surveys in association with the corals are Pandalid shrimp. On fine sediments sea pens were found with densities up to 15.4 individuals m-². This report of coral presence and densities will help fisheries management authorities in the US to implement protection measurements for these vulnerable communities.

Promotor(s) & Supervisor: Rhian Waller, David Packer

ISCED Categories

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0521 - Ecology