Canadian Coral Hunting

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160_sea_creature_070730.jpgA three-week Canadian expedition recently finished that documented a protected area near Sable Island referred to as the Gully. The Gully is the largest submarine canyon in eastern North America, approximately the size of the Grand Canyon. The submersible expedition can be classified as a success obtaining 3,000 digital images, hours of video footage, and multiple samples. One of the goals of the expedition was to increase knowledge on the distribution of deep-water corals. The team discovered a new species of bubblegum coral, a single-cell organism the size of a grapefruit (Xenophyophore), and a colony of Lophelia (stony coral).
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“We really didn’t know what we would find when we went out there because it was all new to us,” Ellen Kenchington, a research scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, N.S. told CTV’s Canada AM. “Previously we had been working at depths to about 700 metres. With the new technology that we had…we could go two and a half kilometres. So it was fantastic.”

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Image Credits and Legends in order of appearance:
Map from the Sable Island Green Horse Society
A ‘Dumbo octopus’ found off the coast of eastern Canada from CTV.ca.
Soft coral (yellow) from Nova Scotia News.

A carnivorous sponge from the genus Chondrocladia. from Nova Scotia News.

Dr. M (1605 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, created to facilitate research to address fundamental questions in evolutionary science. He has conducted deep-sea research for 11 years and published over 40 papers in the area. He has participated in dozens of expeditions taking him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses mainly on marine systems and particularly the biology of body size, biodiversity, and energy flow. He focuses often on deep-sea systems as a natural test of the consequences of energy limitation on biological systems. He is the author and chief editor of Deep-Sea News, a popular deep-sea themed blog, rated the number one ocean blog on the web and winner of numerous awards. Craig’s popular writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web.





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5 comments on “Canadian Coral Hunting
  1. A single-celled organism the size of a grapefruit?! Wow. Is there a picture of it? Or is that the critter in the last (uncredited) photo?

  2. I thought all sponges are predators. They take seawater inside their body through many microscopic channels, filter it for food and gather everything into a wide chute and to the sea.

  3. Most sponges are filter feeders as you mention. Collar cells phagocytize particles out of the water that enters through the canals.These cells have flagella that create the current and draw the particles into the cell. These particles can be any matter of materials in the water column. Carnivorous sponges on the other hand have modified spicules (shaped like hooks) that entrap small crustaceans and the such. Once things are caught in the hook, cells mobilize toward the prey and phagocytize it.

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