Lophelia (Lophelia pertusa)Photo Credit: S.W. Ross and M. Rhode (UNCW)
Description: This hard, branching, colonial coral occurs nearly world-wide. It is the most common structure-forming deep-sea coral making up the foundation for many deep reefs and creating significant complex habitat that other animals use. In addition to attaching to rocks and artificial structures (shipwrecks, oil platforms), it forms mounds and ridges that can be over 330 feet tall. The living coral is bright white because, unlike many shallow corals, it does not have a symbiotic partnership with algae.
Figure 1: Relative probability of occurrence of Lophelia (Lophelia pertusa) based on computer generated distribution maps. Data source: AquamapsDepth Profile
Figure 2: Approximate depth range of Lophelia (black box). Slope of seafloor is a generalized representation of the Gulf of Mexico shelf and outer continental shelf.