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.
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.
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
The coral could provide important insight into
ocean temperatures and how climate change is affecting the growth and evolution
of the species.