Key species

Here are four important cold-water corals - browse the site to learn more about these and other key species of cold-water coral.

Lophelia pertusa colony from the Scottish Mingulay Reef. © JM Roberts, SAMS (2005).

Lophelia pertusa

Lophelia is the most widespread reef-framework forming cold-water coral. It has been frequently found in the North Atlantic Ocean, but it is still being discovered in oceans throughout the world where it's robust skeletons form massive deep-sea coral reefs.

Madrepora oculata collected off the coast of South Carolina, NW Atlantic. © Ross et al. (2002).

Madrepora oculata

The genus Madrepora has produced several species, of these Madrepora oculata is associated with cold-water coral reefs. It is much more fragile than Lophelia and is often found among Lophelia colonies.

JAGO submersible team

Paragorgia arborea

Paragorgia is a type of sea fan or gorgonian coral. They form amongst the largest individual cold-water coral colonies known, with a central trunk which can grow to 3 metres high. These corals form huge fan-like colonies, orientated across the direction of current flow to help the polyps catch their food.

Gonicorella dumosa. © S.D. Carins (1995)

Goniocorella dumosa

Goniocorella has not received the same research interest that other corals have. It is restricted to the southern hemisphere, and occurs mostly in New Zealand waters and on adjacent oceanic banks.