Oregon is home to a magnificent underwater environment, producing valuable fisheries and diverse seafloor habitats. Deep underwater canyons like Astoria Canyon where the Columbia River meets the ocean are home to a variety of coral and sponge habitats (links).
Heceta Bank off the Oregon Coast is a hotspot for black corals. Their complex branches provide homes for commercially important species like rockfish (link), which are currently rebuilding from overfishing (link).
Meanwhile, the state of Washington is famous for its spectacular shores and rugged coastlines. Below the ocean’s surface, the coral, sponges and other colorful seafloor life are just as beautiful. The Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is home to corals, sponges and other living seafloor habitats.
In fact, this sanctuary is home to a rare discovery of Lophelia pertusa (link), a reef-forming deep-sea coral previously thought to exist only in the Atlantic Ocean. Even Puget Sound contains hydrocorals scattered throughout its various inlets and islands. These corals are living habitats that provide structure on the seafloor for other marine life. Biogenic habitat provides feeding areas, shelter from predators, and nursery for juveniles.
Trawling (link) in the Pacific Northwest has taken its toll both on the fish and their habitat. Targeting flatfish, whiting and rockfish (links), trawlers have flattened many of the corals, sponges and other living seafloor animals before scientists even knew they were there.
Learn more about Pacific corals at http://savecorals.org