Researchers find underwater forest of critically endangered bamboo coral in the Balearic Islands

Source: Oceana

Researchers from Oceana, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography and the University of Bari describe for the first time the biodiversity of this habitat, in decline from bottom trawling.

Scientists from Oceana, the Spanish Institute of Oceanography, and the University of Bari (Italy) have described and listed the biodiversity associated to a bamboo coral (Isidella elongata) forest for the first time. The colony was found in the Mallorca Channel at a depth of over 400 meters and contains an impressive density of colonies of this species of gorgonian, which is critically endangered with extinction in the Mediterranean.

“Bamboo coral populations have declined by more than 80% in the Mediterranean and are severely threatened,” explained Ricardo Aguilar, Research and Expeditions director for Oceana in Europe and co-author of the article. “The forest that we have found in the Balearic Islands is, by its extension and density, one of the largest groups of bamboo coral in the Mediterranean and dozens of species depend on it. It reaches densities of more than 2,500 colonies per hectare, while nearby areas impacted by bottom trawling only reach 30-60”.

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