Please select your home edition
Henri-Lloyd 2022 December - SW LEADERBOARD

Innovation to learn more about Alaska's deep-sea corals and the species that live there

by NOAA Fisheries 8 Aug 2022 18:37 UTC
This tentacled bamboo coral (Isidella tentaculum), seen on the right, grow at a rate of only 14 mm per year. Changes affecting their rate of growth may have profound effects that can linger for decades © NMFS / NOAA - Color correction applied by NOAA Fisheries

During our most recent dive we encountered more interesting deep sea creatures whose relationships with each other create the deep sea ecosystems of the Gulf of Alaska.

Vulnerability to disturbance

Deep-sea corals are widespread throughout Alaska, including the continental shelf and upper slope of the Gulf of Alaska, the Aleutian Islands, the eastern Bering Sea, and extending as far north as the Beaufort Sea. Many grow very slowly. During the survey, as mentioned in post 4, we found tentacled bamboo coral. Changes due to both natural disturbance and some human activities can affect their rate of growth and may have profound effects that can linger for decades.

Groundfish Habitat

Arrowtooth flounder (Atheresthes stomias) is a relatively large flatfish and one of the most abundant fish in the Gulf of Alaska. It plays an important role in Alaska's complex marine food chain. It feeds extensively on the commercially important walleye pollock and in turn is an important part of the diet of Steller sea lions.

In Alaska, NOAA Fisheries scientists and the flatfish fishing industry collaborated to develop changes to fishing gear that would reduce effects of flatfish trawling on seafloor habitats of the central Gulf of Alaska and the eastern Bering Sea shelf. The modified gear they developed -Bering Sea flatfish gear- not only reduced impacts to seafloor habitat and the animals living there but also reduced the fishery's impacts on crabs. In the central Gulf of Alaska and Bering Sea areas, flatfish fishermen are now required to use this modified fishing gear.

Dusky rockfish (Sebastes variabilis) have one of the most northerly distributions of all rockfish species in the Pacific. They range from southern British Columbia north to the Bering Sea and west to Japan, but are abundant only in the Gulf of Alaska (GOA).

Sea Stars

Callogorgia compressa is a type of soft coral in the family Primnoidae. Callogorgiahave a fan shaped body structure that often serves as a habitat for other organisms.

Certain brittle stars have a commensal relationship with these corals. The brittle stars benefit from the elevation provided by Callogorgia allowing them to suspension feed.

Cat sharks use Callogorgia as a nursery habitat by depositing their egg cases on the branches. Callogorgiahas also formed associations with copepods, zoanthids, and scale worms.

A slime star (Pteraster tesselatus). The slime star feeds on various benthic invertebrates, including sponges, the false jingle shell, scallops, clams, and colonial sea squirts. If attacked by a predator such as a sunflower star (Pycnopodia helianthoides), the slime star emits great quantities of repellent mucus and can often evade the predator.

Thanks for checking out this blog! If you got this far, you're likely hungry for more. If so, check out another blog: EcoFOCI's Spring Mooring Cruise.

Are there other topics you'd like to see us share? Let us know at .

Fair winds and following seas!

Related Articles

Marine mammal stocks vulnerable to climate change
According to a new study in the North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico & Caribbean A new study has found that a majority of marine mammal stocks managed under U.S. jurisdiction in the western North Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean Sea are very highly vulnerable or highly vulnerable to climate change. Posted on 25 Sep
$82m for endangered North Atlantic Right Whales
Historic funding is part of the Administration's Investing in America agenda Today, the Department of Commerce and NOAA announced next steps to conserve and recover endangered North Atlantic right whales with $82 million in funding from the Inflation Reduction Act—the largest climate and conservation investment in history. Posted on 22 Sep
Alaskan operators commit to having Whale SENSE
Whale SENSE is an education, stewardship, and recognition program Whale watching is an important economic driver in many of Alaska's coastal communities. Most operations are family-owned and generally range from single 6-passenger vessels to a fleet of 150-passenger vessels. Posted on 17 Sep
Two decades of counting whales and dolphins
Almost 40 separate populations of cetaceans are currently recognized around Hawaiian waters At least 24 species of cetaceans (whales and dolphins) spend all or part of their lives in the U.S. Exclusive Economic Zone around the Hawaiian Islands. Posted on 12 Sep
New research predicts effects of marine heatwaves
Real-time shifts in marine ecosystems and species demand “climate-ready” fisheries Forecasts can now predict the location and onset of marine heatwaves that can disrupt marine ecosystems. Scientists say the next step is to forecast what happens to top predators that inhabit those ecosystems. Posted on 10 Sep
Coral reefs benefit from reduced land-sea impacts
New research finds that reducing land- and sea-based human impacts supports coral reef persistence Coral reefs are among the most productive and biologically diverse ocean ecosystems on Earth. Many local human communities depend on tropical coral reefs for cultural practices, fisheries, and coastal protection. Posted on 16 Aug
A rare sighting of endangered rice's whales
Each sighting of this species is important to building scientific understanding of the population During the last leg of NOAA's Southeast 2023 Vessel Surveys For Abundance and Distribution of Marine Mammals and Seabirds project, the research started with a lot of excitement. Posted on 5 Aug
Ruth Gates Coral Restoration Innovation Grants
Projects will develop novel restoration & intervention methods to promote resilient coral ecosystems NOAA is committed to working with partners to save and restore the world's coral reefs. Posted on 26 Jul
West Coast wraps up Deep-Sea Coral Initiative
The effort has greatly improved our understanding of deep-sea corals and sponges The effort has greatly improved our understanding of deep-sea corals and sponges off the coasts of California, Oregon, and Washington, particularly within national marine sanctuaries. Posted on 23 Jul
Study finds Reef Manta Rays stay close to home
Reef manta rays in Hawai'i have small populations that are genetically distinct and vulnerable New research shows that manta rays in Hawai'i live in isolated, island-specific, and genetically distinct populations. Posted on 22 Jul
Stoneways Marine 2021 - FOOTERGJW Direct - Yacht 2019 - FooterCrewsaver 2021 Safetyline FOOTER