Reef biodiversity

Cold-water corals reefs are home to a diverse set of animals. Using a Lophelia pertusa reef as an example, we'll take you on a voyage through the different zones of the reef and meet some of the amazing animals that live there.

Shoals of fish swim above the bright white thickets of living coral but closer inspection shows the live coral to be only one part of the reef. The living coral caps a framework of dead coral skeletons, which traps sand and mud creating a complex habitat where the majority of the reef's inhabitants live.

Surrounding the reefs, are banks of coral rubble, interspersed with small colonies of living coral. This was once part of the living reef, but through a process called ‘bioerosion’ the coral framework is gradually broken down by a variety of different eroding animals.

Click on the images below to visit some inhabitants of these zones:

Life above the reef The living reef Dead coral Fringing habitats
Click here to visit the animals that live above the reef © Lundin Petroleum LTD (2002). Click here to vist the animals living on the reef © J.M. Roberts, SAMS (2005). Click here to visit the animals living in the coral rubble around the reef © Ifremer & AWI (2003). Visit some of the animals found around the reef © Ifremer & AWI (2003).