Few people are aware that the continental shelf, slope and canyons of California’s ocean are home to a diversity of deep-sea corals. Like redwoods, California’s deep sea corals can live to be hundreds to thousands of years old.
Large corals like Hydrocorals, sea fans and black corals are found in high densities in the Channel Islands, Monterey Bay, the Gulf of the Farallones off San Francisco and the continental slope off northern California. Hydrocorals and gorgonian sea fans are commonly seen by divers in Southern California.
Scientists recently discovered a new species of deep-sea coral off the coast of Santa Barbara. They named the new species Christmas tree coral (Antipathes dendrochristos) since it grows over six feet tall and resembles pink, white and red flocked Christmas trees. This discovery shows the importance of protecting areas that have not yet been trawled. Scientists have only explored less than one percent of California’s seafloor.