Mesophotic coral ecosystems on the walls of Coral Sea atolls
January 30, 2011

Authors: Bongaerts, P., Bridge, T.C.L., Kline, D.I., Muir, P.R., Wallace, C.C., Beaman, R.J., Hoegh-Guldberg, O.

Year: 2011

Publication: Coral Reefs 30(2), 335. doi: 10.1007/s00338-011-0725-7

Abstract

A research cruise was undertaken in October 2010 to explore potential mesophotic coral communities (30–150 m) in the recently established Coral Sea Conservation Zone (CSCZ). The CSCZ covers an area of almost one million square kilometres east of the Great Barrier Reef (Australia), with its reefs and atolls located hundreds of kilometres from the nearest landmass and surrounded by deep oceanic water.

Three of the atolls in the CSCZ (West Holmes Reef [16.243°S, 147.874°E], East Holmes Reef [16.459°S, 148.024°E] and Flora Reef [16.755°S, 147.738°E]) were assessed using SCUBA and a Seabotix ROV.

The deep-water coral communities may play an important role in the recovery of shallow reef areas on these isolated atolls by functioning as refugia from the repeated disturbances that have affected these reefs.

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