GCI researchers have documented ‘deep reefs’ across 10 different locations on the outer Great Barrier Reef (GBR) and Coral Sea atolls, providing insights into the potential prevalence of deep coral communities throughout the region.
“The diversity and quantity of corals found at these depths (60 to 125 m depth) highlights the importance of studying these largely undocumented sections of the GBR and the Coral Sea.
“Specimen collections at depths between 60 to 125 m revealed that these habitats contain a coral diversity that is substantially higher than previously reported.
“Our surveys pave the way for further modelling studies to predict the distribution and abundance of these deep-reef communities, which may be extensive in the region
“A better understanding of the deep-reef habitat and the communities it can support is urgently required to allow for adequate consideration in future marine zoning by the respective management authorities,” Norbert said.
Norbert and his team carried out assessments of deep-reef coral ecosystems using a remotely operated vehicle during five targeted research expeditions between 2012 and 2014 as part of the XL Catlin Seaview Survey.