Corals of the Northeast U.S.


In the northeast United States, there are at least 25 different species of both hard and soft deep-sea corals (link). These coral are long-lived and fragile, making them vulnerable to destructive fishing (link) practices. Although little is known about even the most abundant deep-sea coral in New England, it is clear they are important animals in the deep-sea ecosystem; providing shelter, food and spawning grounds.


Iridigorgia (link) are curling soft corals found in New England made of polyps arranged in groups of eight. This arrangement deems them part of the group of corals called octocorals. These fragile deep sea corals wind upwards in a striking spiraling pattern, growing sometimes up to six and a half feet tall.


Corals in the Northeast have also been researched as important indicators of climate  change (link). Coral skeletons are marked by striations that accumulate over time like tree rings and record variations in ocean conditions.


In one example, Flabellum alabastrum revealed temperature change that occurred in a single spot over the last fifty years. Bamboo corals may provide a model for artificial synthesis of collagen and have been used to synthesize human bone analogs for grafting. Coral-based implants have many properties similar to bone and can be absorbed more quickly than bioceramics.


Learn more about the corals of the Northeast U.S. >>