It is usually assumed that metabolic constraints restrict deep-sea corals to cold-water habitats, with 'deep-sea' and 'cold-water' corals often used as synonymous. Here we report on the first measurements of biological characters of deep-sea corals from the central Red Sea, where they occur at temperatures exceeding 20°C in highly oligotrophic and oxygen-limited waters. Low respiration rates, low calcification rates, and minimized tissue cover indicate that a reduced metabolism is one of the key adaptations to prevailing environmental conditions. We investigated four sites and encountered six species of which at least two appear to be undescribed. One species is previously reported from the Red Sea but occurs in deep cold waters outside the Red Sea raising interesting questions about presumed environmental constraints for other deep-sea corals. Our findings suggest that the present understanding of deep-sea coral persistence and resilience needs to be revisited.
|Original language||English (US)|
|State||Published - Oct 3 2013|