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Tue May 15, 2018, 06:36 PM

This 'Secret Garden' of Coral May Be 1,000 Years Old


The underwater footage shows a rare look at the thriving deep-sea life contained in the Gulf of Mexico's dark depths.

By Sarah Gibbens

Lying just over 7,500 feet below the Gulf of Mexico, scientists have found a hidden garden of bamboo coral.

According to video published by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, scientists haven't seen anything like it in the Gulf of Mexico so far.

The government research group found the dense coral bed during a 23-day expedition aboard its Okeanos vessel. It's the only federally funded vessel devoted entirely to oceanic research. Since mid-April, the group has been exploring features found in the Gulf, a deep-sea region NOAA says is little understood. Many of the expeditions, this one included, were made possible with remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) that transmit video signals via satellite to crews watching on deck.

Bamboo coral is common in deep waters where they grow in “forests,” but researchers were surprised to see the corals so densely clustered together at such an extreme depth. It was found near the west coast of Florida near a system of underwater canyons. The corals are able to grow even on steep cliff sides, and their fans are spread to catch the current and increase their chances of getting hit by food.


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