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Deep-water bamboo coral forests in a muddy Arctic environment


Keratoisis is a genus of bamboo coral commonly reported in the northwest (NW) Atlantic as a result of fishing bycatch or by in situ observations. In 1999, a scientific trawl survey recovered fragments of Keratoisis sp. in southeast Baffin Bay (NW Atlantic), but colonies had never been seen in situ at this location until 2013, when a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) was used to survey this location. Here we report the presence of dense forests of Keratoisis sp. in a muddy environment at depths >900 m. Colonies were found as dense patches up to ~55 m long along the ROV track and were estimated to reach ~1 m in height. At this location, Keratoisis sp. appears to have branched root-like structures probably used for anchorage on mud. The majority of colonies were alive, but fragments of dead colonies were also observed, especially in the path of the 1999 bottom trawl tow. Based on visual observation, the dense stands of Keratoisis sp. in this environment seem to form structure and habitat for other invertebrates and fishes in an otherwise mainly muddy environment.

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We thank the Captain and crew of CCGS Amundsen and the Canadian Coast Guard, chief scientist Louis Fortier, ROV pilots Ian Murdock and Trevor Shepherd. This manuscript was improved by the comments of three anonymous reviewers. This study was funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) doctoral scholarship to BMN, NSERC Discovery Grant to CHM, Canadian Healthy Oceans Network (CHONe), a university-government partnership dedicated to biodiversity science for the sustainability of Canada's three oceans, Network of Centres of Excellence of Canada ArcticNet, and the NSERC MRS grant to the Canadian Scientific Submersible Facility (CSSF).

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Correspondence to Bárbara de Moura Neves.

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Forests of the bamboo coral Keratoisis sp. in a deep-water environment in Southeast Baffin Bay (between Greenland and Canada). Video recorded in August 2013 using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV). (MP4 69875 kb)

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Neves, B.M., Edinger, E., Hillaire-Marcel, C. et al. Deep-water bamboo coral forests in a muddy Arctic environment. Mar Biodiv 45, 867–871 (2015).

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  • Isididae
  • Keratoisis
  • Cold-water coral
  • Habitat
  • Baffin Bay
  • Northwest Atlantic