In the northeast United States, there are at least 25 different species of both hard and soft deep-sea corals. These coral are long-lived and fragile, making them vulnerable to destructive fishing practices.
Although little is known about even the most abundant deep-sea coral in New England, it is clear they are important animals in the deep-sea ecosystem; providing shelter, food and spawning grounds.
Corals in the Northeast have also been researched as important indicators of climate change. Coral skeletons are marked by striations that accumulate over time like tree rings and record variations in ocean conditions.
In one example, Flabellum alabastrum revealed temperature change that occurred in a single spot over the last fifty years. Bamboo corals may provide a model for artificial synthesis of collagen and have been used to synthesize human bone analogs for grafting. Coral-based implants have many properties similar to bone and can be absorbed more quickly than bioceramics.
Learn more about the corals of the Northeast U.S.