The deepest, zooxanthellate scleractinian corals in the world?
- 174 Downloads
Despite its ecological importance, the photosynthetic deep reef below 40 m around the world is understudied and poorly understood. Most coral reef science is performed within the depth limits of recreational SCUBA diving. However, zooxanthellate scleractinian corals occur far below these depths in clear oceanic waters (Fricke and Meischner 1985; Reed 1985; Fricke et al. 1987). In Hawaii, extensive deep reef habitat is associated with insular shelves which surround most islands, and which extend laterally several km offshore to depths of 110–120 m where they are typically bordered by steep fossil carbonate slopes created during periods of low Pleistocene sea level (Jones 1993; Fletcher and Sherman 1995).
Vaughan (1907) described deepwater corals from Hawaii, including four species of the zooxanthellate genus Leptoseris. Dredge hauls were made to depths of 312 fathom; but the exact depth of each collection and original in situ development cannot be discerned. The deepest in situ record for a zooxanthellate scleractinian coral in the Pacific is Leptoseris hawaiiensis at 165 m in Johnston Atoll (Maragos and Jokiel 1986). In Hawaii Leptoseris sp. has been recorded at 153 m (Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory M288) and in the Red Sea, Leptoseris fragilis at 145 m (Fricke et al. 1987). The deepest record in the Caribbean is Agaricia grahamae at 119 m in the Bahamas (Reed 1985).
This research was funded in part by grants from the University of Hawaii Undersea Research Laboratory (HURL) and the National Sea Grant College Program. We thank HURL for Fig. 1. Special thanks to Dr. Charlie Veron for assistance in taxonomy.
- Fletcher C, Sherman C (1995) Submerged shorelines on O’ahu, Hawai’i: archive of episodic transgression during the deglaciation. J Coastal Res 141–152Google Scholar
- Kirk JTO (1994) Light and photosynthesis in aquatic ecosystems. Cambridge University Press, New YorkGoogle Scholar
- Reed JK (1985) Deepest distribution of Atlantic hermatypic corals discovered in the Bahamas. Proc 5th Int Coral Reef Symp 6:249–254Google Scholar
- Vaughan TW (1907) Recent Madreporaria of the Hawaiian Islands and Laysan. US National Museum Bulletin 59, Washington, DCGoogle Scholar