Map of Atlantic sea floor reveals mysterious 'cold water corals'

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
Some of the first detailed maps of the Atlantic sea floor have revealed cold water corals (Image: South-West News)
In this article:
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

Mysterious cold water corals have been pinpointed deep beneath the Atlantic after scientists used hi-tech 3D mapping to chart the unknown sea floor.

The scientists say that the floor of the Atlantic is less well-mapped than the surface of Mars.

The corals - cousins to the more well-known trpical variety - live on tops of 'hills' on the sea floor.

Dr Kerry Howell, project lead and member of the Plymouth University Marine Institute, said: "We have better maps of the surface of Mars than some parts of our deep-sea – but this marks the dawning of a new era in deep-sea mapping, and our first steps into understanding the deep-sea realm as never before."

[Related: Huge alien planet is made of diamonds, say scientists]

Cold-water corals are found on the tops of mounds in areas where tidal currents cause turbulence.

Although they live far beneath the surface, the turbulence mixes in nutrients from the sunlit surface, allowing the corals to feed.

Marine biologists and geologists have unveiled the first-ever set of maps detailing where vulnerable deep-sea habitats are likely to be found in the North East Atlantic.

The team from Plymouth University, the Marine Biological Association, and the British Geological Survey, have used complex modelling techniques to chart a surface zone more than three times the size of the UK's land surface area.

Among the vulnerable habitats they mapped are cold water coral reefs and sponge fields.

A new map which has been produced to show the probable locations of cold water corals which grown in deep waters in the Atlantic.

Our goal is to create a safe and engaging place for users to connect over interests and passions. In order to improve our community experience, we are temporarily suspending article commenting