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This photo shows Lophelia pertusa living polyps with expanded tentacles, taken in an aquarium in Bergen, Norway.

Rare, reef-building coral found off N.S.

Canadian Press
Sept. 25/02

   HALIFAX - Scientists scanning the ocean floor off Nova Scotia have found an ancient, reef-building coral that has never been seen in Canada and could date as far back as the last ice age.
   Researchers came across a live, gleaming white piece of lophelia pertusa, or spider hazard coral, while conducting a video monitor last week of a heavily fished area east of Sable Island, on the outer edge of the Laurentian Channel.
   "We saw it for 15 seconds and we couldn't believe our eyes and said things like, `It can't be, but yes it is.' It was a pretty great time," Pal Mortensen, a marine biologist with the Department of Fisheries and Oceans, said Tuesday of the 15-metre-long piece of coral. "This is a very interesting finding because it indicates there can be deepwater coral reefs in this area."
   Nova Scotia has about 25 species of deepwater coral off its shores, but none is the kind that build reefs, like those found in southern climates. Researchers have found this strain of coral in waters off Norway, Scotland and other parts of Europe, but have never spotted a live piece in Canada.
   The coral could provide important insight into ocean temperatures and how climate change is affecting the growth and evolution of the species.

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