Discovery of deep-water coral frameworks in the northern Red Sea waters of Saudi Arabia

Mohammad A. Qurban, Periyadan K. Krishnakumar, Thadickal V. Joydas, Karuppasamy P. Manikandan, T. T. M. Ashraf, Goutham Sampath, Duraisamy Thiyagarajan, Song He, Stephen D. Cairns

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Abstract

Abstract This paper reports a deep-water coral framework (a single colonial bush or a larger bioconstruction of coral covering the sea bottom), formed entirely by the scleractinian coral Eguchipsammia fistula (Alcock, 1902) (Dendrophylliidae), in the northern Red Sea waters of Saudi Arabia at a depth of about 640 m. The framework consists of mostly live corals with a total area of about 10 m$^{2}$ and the length of the individual coral branches range from 12 to 30 cm. Although E. fistula is ubiquitous, this discovery is the second record of a framework formed by this species and the first discovery of a large living reef in the Red Sea. The results of the genetic study indicate the potential existence of a genetic variation of E. fistula in the Red Sea. This discovery implies that the Red Sea has favorable habitats for framework-forming DWC species and highlights the need for conducting more systematic surveys for understanding their distribution, abundance, and ecology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Volume10
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Sep 18 2020

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