Diversity of Deep-Sea Corals
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."
Deep-Sea Coral Community
Coral scientist Dr. Amy Baco-Taylor observed corals like these on her first submarine dive to a deep-sea coral bed off the coast of Hawaii.
Photos by A. Baco, T. Kerby and M. Kremer, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory and NOAA Ocean Exploration
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.
Mountains in the Sea Research Team; the IFE Crew; and NOAA
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."
Sea Whip Coral
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.
Aquapix and Expedition to the Deep Slope 2007
Solitary Deep-water Corals
Stephanocyathus (A.) spiniger, a solitary, deep-water stony coral species, has six long spines that slow it from sinking into soft substrates.
Red Tree Coral
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.
Collecting Gold Coral from the Deep Sea
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.
Deep-Sea Coral Sample
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.
Lophelia Pertusa Coral Polyps
Dr. J. Murray Roberts photographed these living polyps from the Mingulay Reef Complex off Scotland in aquaria in 2010.
J. Murray Roberts
Gold Coral Close-up
This photograph of Gerardia sp. was taken at the Cross Seamount in the Pacific Ocean at a depth of 400 m (1,312 feet).
Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory, National Oceanographic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and Rob Dunbar
Deep-Sea Coral Habitat
Rockfish, anemones, and other invertebrates inhabit this deep-sea coral reef in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California.
Jodi Pirtle/Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary
New Bamboo Coral
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.
NOAA, WHOI, the Alvin Group, and the 2004 GOA Expedition
Manning Seamount Deep Coral Communities
Colorful corals and brittlestars on Manning Seamount off the New England coast.
Mountains in the Sea Research Group/NOAA/IFE
Lophelia pertusa Colony
This colony of Lophelia pertusa was photographed from the Mingulay Reef Complex off Scotland in 2005.
Aleutian Coral Reef
Several species of deep-sea corals form an underwater garden 165 m (540 ft) below the ocean’s surface off the coast of Alaska’s Aleutian Islands.
The branches of a primnoid coral in the genus Calyptrophora provide a habitat for galathaoid crabs.
Photos by A. Baco, T.Kerby and M. Kremer, Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory and NOAA Ocean Exploration
How old is black coral?
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.
Texas A&M University
Coral Thicket with Lobster
A thicket of white stony coral (Lophelia pertusa), a widespread deep-sea coral, shelters a squat lobster (Eumunida picta).
S. Ross et al., UNCW, NOAA/USGS DISCOVRE Cruise
Protected Deep-sea Corals
These deep-sea corals at the Madison-Swanson Marine Reserve in the Gulf of Mexico are protected, along with the marine life they harbor.
Deep-sea Coral and Shrimp
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.
Lophelia II 2009: Deepwater Coral Expedition – Reefs, Rigs and Wrecks