The scientists from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) have discovered a new species of coral off the coast of Sonoma County, California. The area is proposed for a national marine sanctuary extension, as the habitat is still unexplored and extremely biologically diverse.
The new species of coral discovered off the coast of Sonoma County is a white coral specimen. It was uncovered by a team of specialists during a six-day trip through the deep sea zones just north of Bodega Head.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration also announced that among from the new species of coral, they also found areas in which skate egg cases were laid together with catshark nests. It’s the first case of overlapping nurseries for these two species, which makes this discovery even more important.
The area where the new species of coral was discovered needs to remain protected, as scientists believe it holds great potential for future revelations. Gary Williams, Academy of Sciences zoologist, said:
It’s exciting in that we’ve never really looked at the sea bottom off the San Francisco Coast in this detail. Before this, we really didn’t have an idea of what the bottom looked like, and it’s not just a uniform plain. It’s highly varied, with highly diversified habitats.
The discovery of the new species of coral was made during NOAA’s September scientific mission. NOAA’s partners also took part in the mission: NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, the U.S. Geological Survey and the California Academy of Sciences. The research vessel that carried the teams of scientists measured 67 feet, while the deep-sea water exploration was made using a remote-controlled submersible. The submersible was equipped with video cameras and a collection arm.
The findings of the research team are important even if the expansion is not approved, because the ecosystem management is now aware that the sanctuaries exist in the area. Jan Roletto, Gulf of the Farallones sanctuary research coordinator, said:
The whole area up through Point Arena is an area that really generates a lot of nutrients, but the area in and of itself is not just there to feed into the ecology farther south. It has its own rich and diverse ecology.