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Corals: Species at Risk

The ivory tree coral, Oculina varicosa, builds extensive reefs similar in size, shape and structure to Lophelia. In contrast to the broad geographic range of Lophelia, however, these reefs are found only off the southeastern US.

Lophelia pertusa is a reef-forming coral that provides a highly complex habitat supporting as diverse an array of life as some shallow water reef communities. It is found in every ocean except in polar regions.

Most Lophelia reefs are found at depths of 650 to 3,300 feet, though the deepest so far discovered is nearly two miles beneath the surface of the Atlantic. 

The gorgonian corals Primnoa, also known as red tree corals or sea corn, and the bubblegum coral Paragorgia arborea can form great branching trees that reach many feet from the seabed.

Red tree corals 7 feet tall and 25 feet wide have been observed by scientists in submersibles, and fishermen have reported bubblegum trees over ten feet tall and several inches thick.