National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via apA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo shows a new species of deep-sea white coral found by researchers off the coast of Sonoma County.

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration via apA National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration photo shows a new species of deep-sea white coral found by researchers off the coast of Sonoma County.

Scientists find new coral species off California

Scientists have discovered a new species of deep-sea coral in underwater canyons off the Northern California coast, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration announced.

A NOAA research team using small submersibles found the coral in September near national marine sanctuaries off the coast of Sonoma County, the agency said last week.

The coral from the genus Leptogorgia was discovered about 600 feet deep in the first intensive exploration of underwater canyons near the Gulf of Farallones and Cordell Bank national marine sanctuaries.

Collecting data on the 4-inch-long white and red coral will help scientists determine the ecological importance of deep sea communities in the area and the threats they face, said the Farallones sanctuary's superintendent, Maria Brown.

“Deep-sea corals and sponges provide valuable refuge for fish and other marina life,” Brown said. “Effective management of these ecosystems requires science-based information on their condition.”

Before the research expedition two months ago, scientists knew little about the marine life in the area, NOAA said.

After multiple dives in the area, researchers also found a “highly unusual” nursery area for catsharks.

“This is a highly unusual nursery because rarely, if ever, are shark nurseries in the same area as skate nurseries,” said Peter Etnoyer, a deep-sea biologist at NOAA's National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science.

Submarine canyons often extend from the continental shelf to the deep sea, and exploring them can be difficult.

The research team that made the discoveries conducted video surveys of areas that had been only documented through sonar imaging.

Bay Area NewsLeptogorgiaNational Oceanic and Atmospheric AdministrationNew coral species

If you find our journalism valuable and relevant, please consider joining our Examiner membership program.
Find out more at www.sfexaminer.com/join/

Just Posted

Chelsea Hung, who owns Washington Bakery and Restaurant in Chinatown with her mother, said the restaurant is only making about 30 percent of pre-pandemic revenues. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Chinatown’s slow recovery has business owners fearing for the future

Lack of outside visitors threatens to push neighborhood into ‘downward spiral’

San Francisco Symphony Music Director Esa-Pekka Salonen and members of the orchestra were thrilled to be back inside Davies Symphony Hall on May 6 in a program for first responders featuring string works by Jean Sibelius, George Walker, Carl Nielsen, Caroline Shaw and Edward Grieg. (Courtesy Stefan Cohen/San Francisco Symphony)
SF Symphony makes joyful return to Davies Hall

Esa-Pekka Salonen conducts program for first responders and community leaders

Students in an after-school community hub move quickly through a social circle as they play a game at the Mission YMCA on Friday, May 7, 2021. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Parents scramble for ‘Summer Together’ spaces

City program offering free camps sees high demand, confusion over enrollment

Jazz pianist and composer Jon Jang is an instructor at Community Music Center in the Mission District. (Kevin N. Hume/S.F. Examiner)
Jon Jang composes bittersweet symphonies

Musician-activist’s works are steeped in civil rights history

Calfire (Shutterstock)
Wildfires burn around Northern California during first red flag weekend of the year

Firefighters around the region battled wildfires all day Saturday, starting less than… Continue reading

Most Read