Coral Reefs

, Volume 35, Issue 4, pp 1227–1239 | Cite as

In situ growth rates of deep-water octocorals determined from 3D photogrammetric reconstructions

  • Swaantje BenneckeEmail author
  • Tom Kwasnitschka
  • Anna Metaxas
  • Wolf-Christian Dullo


Growth rates of deep-water corals provide important information on the recovery potential of these ecosystems, for example from fisheries-induced impacts. Here, we present in situ growth dynamics that are currently largely unknown for deep-water octocorals, calculated by applying a non-destructive method. Videos of a boulder harbouring multiple colonies of Paragorgia arborea and Primnoa resedaeformis in the Northeast Channel Coral Conservation Area at the entrance to the Gulf of Maine at 863 m depth were collected in 2006, 2010 and 2014. Photogrammetric reconstructions of the boulder and the fauna yielded georeferenced 3D models for all sampling years. Repeated measurements of total length and cross-sectional area of the same colonies allowed the observation of growth dynamics. Growth rates of total length of Paragorgia arborea decreased over time with higher rates between 2006 and 2010 than between 2010 and 2014, while growth rates of cross-sectional area remained comparatively constant. A general trend of decreasing growth rates of total length with size of the coral colony was documented. While no growth was observed for the largest colony (165 cm in length) between 2010 and 2014, a colony 50–65 cm in length grew 3.7 cm yr−1 between 2006 and 2010. Minimum growth rates of 1.6–2.7 cm yr−1 were estimated for two recruits (<23 cm in 2014) of Primnoa resedaeformis. We successfully extracted biologically meaningful data from photogrammetric models and present the first in situ growth rates for these coral species in the Northwest Atlantic.


Deep-water corals Paragorgia arborea Primnoa resedaeformis Growth dynamics Photogrammetry Conservation 



We thank the crews of NOAA vessel Henry B. Bigelow and ROV ROPOS for their support on board and Vincent Auger for his technical assistance. Funding was provided by the Helmholtz Graduate School HOSST and GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research Kiel to S.B., NSERC Discovery and Shiptime Allocation Grants to A.M. and by the NOAA/NMFS Northeast Fisheries Science Center, NOAA Office of Marine and Aviation Operations and NOAA Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology program to Martha Nizinski. Funding for T.K. was provided by the Helmholtz Alliance ROBEX. We thank two anonymous reviewers for their valuable comments.

Supplementary material

338_2016_1471_MOESM1_ESM.pdf (1010 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (PDF 1010 kb)
338_2016_1471_MOESM2_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 2 (PDF 1220 kb)
338_2016_1471_MOESM3_ESM.pdf (1.3 mb)
Supplementary material 3 (PDF 1328 kb)
338_2016_1471_MOESM4_ESM.pdf (1.2 mb)
Supplementary material 4 (PDF 1266 kb)
338_2016_1471_MOESM5_ESM.pdf (3.3 mb)
Supplementary material 5 (PDF 3401 kb)


  1. Andrews AH, Stone RP, Lundstrom CC, DeVogelaere AP (2009) Growth rate and age determination of bamboo corals from the northeastern Pacific Ocean using refined 210Pb dating. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 397:173–185CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  2. Beiring EA, Lasker HR (2000) Egg production by colonies of a gorgonian coral. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 196:169–177CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  3. Breeze H, Fenton DG (2007) Designing management measures to protect cold-water corals off Nova Scotia, Canada. Bull Mar Sci 81:123–133Google Scholar
  4. Breeze H, Davis DS, Butler M, Kostylev V (1997) Distribution and status of deep sea corals off Nova Scotia. Special Publication 1, Marine Issues Committee, Ecology Action Centre, Halifax, Nova ScotiaGoogle Scholar
  5. Buhl-Mortensen L, Mortensen PB (2005) Distribution and diversity of species associated with deep-sea gorgonian corals off Atlantic Canada. In: Freiwald A, Roberts JM (eds) Cold-water corals and ecosystems. Springer-Verlag, Berlin Heidelberg, pp 849–879CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  6. Burns JHR, Delparte D, Gates RD, Takabayashi M (2015) Integrating structure-from-motion photogrammetry with geospatial software as a novel technique for quantifying 3D ecological characteristics of coral reefs. PeerJ 3:e1077CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  7. Clark MR, Althaus F, Schlacher TA, Williams A, Bowden DA, Rowden AA (2015) The impacts of deep-sea fisheries on benthic communities: a review. ICES J Mar Sci 2015:fsv123Google Scholar
  8. Cocito S, Sgorbini S, Peirano A, Valle M (2003) 3-D reconstruction of biological objects using underwater video technique and image processing. J Exp Mar Bio Ecol 297:57–70CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  9. Coma R, Zabala M, Gili J-M (1995) Sexual reproductive effort in the Mediterranean gorgonian Paramuricea clavata. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 117:185–192CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  10. Coma R, Ribes M, Zabala M, Gili J-M (1998) Growth in a modular colonial marine invertebrate. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 47:459–470CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  11. Davies AJ, Roberts JM, Hall-Spencer J (2007) Preserving deep-sea natural heritage: emerging issues in offshore conservation and management. Biol Conserv 138:299–312CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  12. De Clippele LH, Buhl-Mortensen P, Buhl-Mortensen L (2015) Fauna associated with cold water gorgonians and sea pens. Cont Shelf Res 105:67–78CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  13. Edinger EN, Baker KD, Devillers R, Wareham V (2007) Coldwater corals off Newfoundland and Labrador: distribution and fisheries impacts. World Wildlife Fund, TorontoGoogle Scholar
  14. Fisher WS, Davis WP, Quarles RL, Patrick J, Campbell JG, Harris PS, Hemmer BL, Parsons M (2007) Characterizing coral condition using estimates of three-dimensional colony surface area. Environ Monit Assess 125:347–360CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  15. Fosså JH, Mortensen PB, Furevik DM (2002) The deep-water coral Lophelia pertusa in Norwegian waters: distribution and fishery impacts. Hydrobiologia 471:1–12CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. Gallmetzer I, Haselmair A, Velimirov B (2010) Slow growth and early sexual maturity: bane and boon for the red coral Corallium rubrum. Estuar Coast Shelf Sci 90:1–10CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  17. Gnanalingam G, Hepburn C (2015) Flexibility in temporary fisheries closure legislation is required to maximise success. Mar Policy 61:39–45CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  18. Grigg RW (1974) Growth rings: annual periodicity in two gorgonian corals. Ecology 1974:876–881CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  19. Herrera S, Shank TM, Sánchez JA (2012) Spatial and temporal patterns of genetic variation in the widespread antitropical deep-sea coral Paragorgia arborea. Mol Ecol 21:6053–6067CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  20. Hourigan TF (2009) Managing fishery impacts on deep-water coral ecosystems of the USA: emerging best practices. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 397:333–340CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  21. ICES (2007) Report of the Working Group on Deep-water Ecology (WGDEC) 26–28 February 2007. ICES CM 2007/ACE:01 Ref LRC, ICES, Copenhagen, 61pGoogle Scholar
  22. Koslow JA, Boehlert G, Gordon J, Haedrich R, Lorance P, Parin N (2000) Continental slope and deep-sea fisheries: implications for a fragile ecosystem. ICES J Mar Sci 57:548–557CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  23. Krieger KJ (2001) Coral (Primnoa) impacted by fishing gear in the Gulf of Alaska. 1st International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals 10:106–116Google Scholar
  24. Kwasnitschka T, Hansteen TH, Devey CW, Kutterolf S (2013) Doing fieldwork on the seafloor: photogrammetric techniques to yield 3D visual models from ROV video. Comput Geosci 52:218–226CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  25. Lacharité M, Metaxas A (2013) Early life history of deep-water gorgonian corals may limit their abundance. PLoS One 8:e65394CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  26. Lasker HR, Boller ML, Castanaro J, Sánchez JA (2003) Determinate growth and modularity in a gorgonian octocoral. Biol Bull 205:319–330CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
  27. Matsumoto AK (2007) Effects of low water temperature on growth and magnesium carbonate concentrations in the cold-water gorgonian Primnoa pacifica. Bull Mar Sci 81:423–435Google Scholar
  28. McCarthy J, Benjamin J (2014) Multi-image photogrammetry for underwater archaeological site recording: an accessible, diver-based approach. Journal of Maritime Archaeology 9:95–114CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  29. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L (2004) Distribution of deep-water gorgonian corals in relation to benthic habitat features in the Northeast Channel (Atlantic Canada). Mar Biol 144:1223–1238CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  30. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L (2005) Morphology and growth of the deep-water gorgonians Primnoa resedaeformis and Paragorgia arborea. Mar Biol 147:775–788CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  31. Mortensen PB, Buhl-Mortensen L, Gordon DCJ, Fader GBJ, McKeown DL, Fenton DG (2005) Effects of fisheries on deepwater gorgonian corals in the Northeast Channel, Nova Scotia. American Fisheries Society Symposium 41:369–382Google Scholar
  32. Peck LS, Brockington S (2013) Growth of the Antarctic octocoral Primnoella scotiae and predation by the anemone Dactylanthus antarcticus. Deep Sea Res Part 2 Top Stud Oceanogr 92:73-78Google Scholar
  33. Pollefeys M, Nistér D, Frahm J-M, Akbarzadeh A, Mordohai P, Clipp B, Engels C, Gallup D, Kim S-J, Merrell P (2008) Detailed real-time urban 3D reconstruction from video. Int J Comput Vis 78:143–167CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  34. Quattrini AM, Nizinski MS, Chaytor JD, Demopoulos AW, Roark EB, France SC, Moore JA, Heyl T, Auster PJ, Kinlan B (2015) Exploration of the canyon-incised continental margin of the northeastern United States reveals dynamic habitats and diverse communities. PLoS One 10:e0139904CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  35. Ramp SR, Schlitz RJ, Wright WR (1985) The deep flow through the Northeast Channel, Gulf of Maine. J Phys Oceanogr 15:1790–1808CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  36. Roark EB, Guilderson TP, Dunbar RB, Ingram BL (2006) Radiocarbon-based ages and growth rates of Hawaiian deep-sea corals. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 327:1–14CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  37. Roark EB, Guilderson TP, Dunbar RB, Fallon SJ, Mucciarone DA (2009) Extreme longevity in proteinaceous deep-sea corals. Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A 106:5204–5208CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  38. Roberts JM, Wheeler AJ, Freiwald A, Cairns S (2009) Cold-water corals: the biology and geology of deep-sea coral habitats. Cambridge University Press, CambridgeCrossRefGoogle Scholar
  39. Sánchez JA (2005) Systematics of the bubblegum corals (Cnidaria: Octocorallia: Paragorgiidae) with description of new species from New Zealand and the Eastern Pacific. Zootaxa 1014:1–72Google Scholar
  40. Sánchez JA, Lasker HR, Taylor DJ (2003) Phylogenetic analyses among octocorals (Cnidaria): mitochondrial and nuclear DNA sequences (lsu-rRNA, 16S and ssu-rRNA, 18S) support two convergent clades of branching gorgonians. Mol Phylogen Evol 29:31–42CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  41. Sartoretto S, Francour P (2012) Bathymetric distribution and growth rates of Eunicella verrucosa (Cnidaria: Gorgoniidae) populations along the Marseilles coast (France). Sci Mar 76:349–355CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  42. Sherwood OA, Edinger EN (2009) Ages and growth rates of some deep-sea gorgonian and antipatharian corals of Newfoundland and Labrador. Can J Fish Aquat Sci 66:142–152CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  43. Sherwood OA, Scott DB, Risk MJ, Guilderson TP (2005) Radiocarbon evidence for annual growth rings in the deep-sea octocoral Primnoa resedaeformis. Mar Ecol Prog Ser 301:129–134CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  44. Stone R, Stevenson D, Brooke S (2015) Assessment of a pilot study to collect coral bycatch data from the Alaska commercial fishing fleet. NOAA Technical Memorandum NMFS-AFSC-296, US Department of Commerce, 45pGoogle Scholar
  45. Tendal OS (1992) The north Atlantic distribution of the octocoral Paragorgia arborea (L., 1758) (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Sarsia 77:213–217CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  46. Tunnicliffe V, Syvitski JP (1983) Corals move boulders: an unusual mechanism of sediment transport. Limnol Oceanogr 28:564–568CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  47. Twomey ER, Signell RP (2013) Construction of a 3-arcsecond digital elevation model for the Gulf of Maine. Open-File Report 2011-1127, US Geological Survey, Coastal and Marine Geology Program, Woods Hole Coastal and Marine Science Center, Woods Hole, MAGoogle Scholar
  48. Waller RG, Stone RP, Johnstone J, Mondragon J (2014) Sexual reproduction and seasonality of the Alaskan red tree coral, Primnoa pacifica. PLoS One 9:e90893CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
  49. Watanabe S, Metaxas A, Sameoto J, Lawton P (2009) Patterns in abundance and size of two deep-water gorgonian octocorals, in relation to depth and substrate features off Nova Scotia. Deep Sea Res Part 1 Oceanogr Res Pap 56:2235–2248Google Scholar
  50. Westoby MJ, Brasington J, Glasser NF, Hambrey MJ, Reynolds JM (2012) ‘Structure-from-Motion’ photogrammetry: a low-cost, effective tool for geoscience applications. Geomorphology 179:300–314CrossRefGoogle Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2016

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.GEOMAR Helmholtz Centre for Ocean Research KielKielGermany
  2. 2.Department of OceanographyDalhousie UniversityHalifaxCanada

Personalised recommendations