Sample the surprising diversity of deep-sea corals. See some of the ways they differ in color, shape, and size. Explore more in the multimedia feature "Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea."
Species of deep-sea gold coral, or Gerardia, often have a tree-like shape, as you can see in this specimen. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
Black corals, like this one growing on the Manning Seamount off the New England coast, often resemble bushes or trees. Contrary to its name, the living tissue of black coral can be one of several colors. It’s the skeleton that is black. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
This bubblegum coral (Paragorgia arborea) has a fanlike shape. It is growing 1,310 m (4,298 ft) deep on the Davidson Seamount southwest of Monterey, California. Learn more about deep-sea corals in the multimedia feature "Coral Gardens of the Deep Sea."
The pink strands of this single deep-sea coral harbor a variety of marine life. Sea whips are gorgonian corals and have flexible skeletons. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
Stephanocyathus (A.) spiniger, a solitary, deep-water stony coral species, has six long spines that slow it from sinking into soft substrates.
Red tree corals like this Calyptrophora bayer can grow several meters high and resemble brightly colored trees. This one was found 1,683 m (5,522 ft) deep on the Davidson Seamount. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
A fan-shaped colony of red coral (Corallium sp.) on the Davidson Seamount provides a perch for three basket stars as they feed. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
This 200-year-old bamboo coral colony is growing on the Davidson Seamount off the coast of California. The skeleton of this deep-sea coral has bamboo-like segments. See more pictures of coral in our Deep-sea Corals article.
A submersible’s robotic arm collects gold coral (Gerardia sp.) in the Hawaiian Islands. Similar specimens have been dated at more than 2,700 years old.
Scientist Martha Nizinski examines a sample of the deep-sea coral Lophelia pertusa, collected 600-m (1,969-ft) deep off the coast of the southeastern United States.
Dr. J. Murray Roberts photographed these living polyps from the Mingulay Reef Complex off Scotland in aquaria in 2010.
This species of bamboo coral, discovered in 2004 in the deep waters of the Pacific Northwest, has unusually long and impressive tentacles on its trunk. They billow in the current like a skirt. Learn about more deep-sea discoveries in our Deep-sea Corals article.
This black coral from Hawaii (Leiopathes sp.) is more than 4,200 years old. Black corals are named for the color of their skeletons, but the outer tissues of black corals come in many colors.
Marine scientists photographed and measured this gorgonian coral (Chrysogorgia sp.) and deep-sea shrimp (Bathypalaemonella sp.) just as they were collected—together. Find out how ocean scientists study deep-sea corals in our Deep-sea Corals article.