Scientists discover five new species of black corals living thousands of feet below the ocean surface near the Great Barrier Reef

The Research Brief is a short take about interesting academic work.

The big idea

Using a remote-controlled submarine, my colleagues and I discovered five new species of black corals living as deep as 2,500 feet (760 meters) below the surface in the Great Barrier Reef and Coral Sea off the coast of Australia.

Black corals can be found growing both in shallow waters and down to depths of over 26,000 feet (8,000 meters), and some individual corals can live for over 4,000 years. Many of these corals are branched and look like feathers, fans or bushes, while others are straight like a whip. Unlike their colorful, shallow-water cousins that rely on the sun and photosynthesis for energy, black corals are filter feeders and eat tiny zooplankton that are abundant in deep waters.