Tuesday, March 14, 2006

Oregon Coral. Honest!

Don't laugh, it's true. We really do have actual corals right here in Oregon. A couple of months back, I made a brief mention of the little-known world of cold deep-sea corals (although most of the post is about baby porcupines, which we have here too, btw). I was watching an HD nature show about tropical coral reefs in Indonesia the other night, and I got to wondering a bit about what (if anything) we've got closer to home.

There's surprisingly little information on the net about coldwater corals, possibly because they aren't easily accessible to recreational divers or PBS documentary teams. This is a real shame, since they're being extensively damaged by indiscriminate bottom trawling, and a large part of the world's deep coral habitat may be gone before we know much at all about it. This isn't intended to be some sort of "blah blah rainforest, blah blah concerned celebrities, blah blah organic tofu" harangue, though. Primarily I just want to point out that deep coral is interesting, it looks cool, and it's here. Just check it out, and then make an informed decision about whether we ought to wipe the stuff out or not. That's all I'm sayin'.

So here are some useful links I've come across:

Two academic papers about Oregon corals:

Conservation and management implications of deep-sea coral and fishing effort distributions in the Northeast Pacific Ocean
Habitat-forming deep-sea corals in the Northeast Pacific Ocean

WSU-Vancouver has a large image archive, although it really helps to know your taxonomy if you're looking for anything specific. If you (like me) need to brush up on that a little, the Wikipedia coral article is useful. The pic shown above is from this archive. It's a gorgonian, listed under subclass Octocorralia.

Some other links:

  • Some general info about Threatened NE Pacific marine habitats.
  • A proposed act of congress to protect deep-sea corals. I'm not holding my breath on this one. Nobody's making money off deep-sea corals, therefore there aren't any bribes to be had, therefore Congress won't act.
  • Not exactly a coral link, but I came across this while I was, uh, trawling the web. So I guess this counts as "bycatch" or something. Here's SlugSite, a page featuring nudibranchs (i.e. sea slugs), including the ever-popular Opisthobranch of the Week feature.

More info & links when I come across 'em.


1 comment :

CH White said...

Ha! I have a piece of Oregon coral that my folks found nearly 50 years ago. I was just wondering a couple days ago if it really was coral or just one of those stories I'd carried since childhood without questioning. Thanks!