In the late 1990s, I saw chunks of coral reef being trawled up off the UK at a time when the fishing industry was moving into deeper waters along the European Continental Shelf edge. As a trained marine biologist I was flabbergasted, since the text books said that coral reefs were restricted to warm tropical waters. It turned out that corals were amongst the first life forms discovered during pioneering deep-sea surveys off southwest Ireland in 1869. In fact, at least as many coral species are described from the deep sea as from shallow waters and large, reef-forming corals have been known to occur in the cold waters off Scandanavia since the times of Linnaeus. However, it is only in the past few years that advances in acoustic survey and digital underwater filming technology have allowed us to film and study these deep-water habitats in detail, rather than relying on remote sampling such as with grabs.

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Science and Public Affairs.

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School of Biological and Marine Sciences