Deep-Sea Corals

The Monument is exceptional for its diversity and abundance of deep-sea corals (also known as cold-water corals). Deep-sea corals grow in deep, cold water, where there is no sunlight. Unlike tropical corals that have photosynthetic algae to supplement their diet and facilitate their growth, deep-sea corals lack this assistance and consequently grow extremely slow. The deep-sea corals within the monument have many associated species, including sponges and anemones which together form the foundation of deep-sea ecosystems. These ecosystems provide food, shelter from predators, breeding, spawning, and nursery habitat. Between 2003 and 2014 during Okeanos ROV deep-sea dives conducted by NOAA, at least 58 species of coral were identified in the monument, including several newly discovered species.