A deep-sea research mission has made some remarkable coral discoveries in Irish waters.
A rare coral, previously undocumented in Irish waters, has been discovered in a deep-sea mission 300 miles off the Galway coast.
After the three-week research in Irish waters, scientists announced the discovery of a type of black coral that is different to any other found to date. The coral may, in fact, prove to be an entirely new species.
"We are very pleased to discover what appear to be new coral species and a rare sponge reef, neither of which have been previously documented in Irish waters," said David O’Sullivan, Marine Institute, who was Chief Scientist on the SeaRover survey.
"These sensitive habitats are very important and this study is key to getting a better understanding of Ireland’s deep sea.
"Our key objective is to discover, protect and monitor Ireland’s rich offshore marine biodiversity so we can manage our marine resources effectively.
“Without a knowledge of what lives on our seabed we are at risk of never fully understanding and appreciating Ireland’s invaluable marine environment.”
Researchers also discovered a “highly unusual” sponge reef made up of living and dead sponges, the like of which has only previously been recorded in Canadian waters.
"This is the first time I have seen a sponge reef like this in nearly 20 years of studying the deep NE Atlantic," said Dr. Kerry Howell, Plymouth University.
"This is an important find. Sponges play a key role in the marine ecosystem providing habitat for other species and recycling nutrients. They may even be a source of new antibiotics.
“These new data will help us to better understand where and why these reefs occur.”
And so it ends..the pilot arrives to guide us into #galway another great #SeaRover survey ends, 52 sites examined to see what lies beneath Irelands ocean. Thanks to all involved. A great team, a great ship and a great #ROV @MarineInst @GeolSurvIE @EU_MARE @followtheboats pic.twitter.com/crRb61iS4Z— David O'Sullivan (@Seabed_Mapper) July 22, 2018
The researchers spent three weeks at sea aboard the ILV Granuaile, exploring Ireland’s deep ocean territory 300 miles off the west coast. They deployed a high definition ROV-mounted video which captured the new “firsts,” confirming that Irish waters are a haven for this type of marine life.