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New Cold-Water Coral Occurrences in the Eastern Ionian Sea: Results From Experimental Long Line Fishing

July 22, 2013

Our knowledge on the cold-water corals (CWCs) occurring in the deep waters of Eastern Ionian Sea (E. Mediterranean) has improved with new species records and information related to their occurrence, abundance, distribution, morphological and other characteristics. Data were collected from accidental coral catches during experimental long-line fishing using two different hook sizes (No. 7 targeting hake and No. 9 targeting blackspot seabream). Eight coral taxa were identified, with new records for the E. Ionian Sea for Antipathes dichotoma, Desmophyllum dianthus, Swiftia pallida and Pennatula phosphorea. CWCs occurred in 72% of the long lines and most of them were entire and live (except Leiopathes glaberrima). The most frequently caught coral group was Antipatharia. Isidella elongata and A. dichotoma presented the highest abundance. The main bulk of the corals was caught between 500–600 m depth. Some of the identified corals (L. glaberrima and I. elongata) seemed to have more close relationships with some species of the fish assemblage (Galeus melastomus, Helicolenus dactylopterus) inhabiting the study area. Species richness and coral catch in numbers were higher for the smaller hook size (No. 9), which caught the larger entire living colonies of A. dichotoma, L. glaberrima and I. elongata. As a result, the corals collected during the present study, characterized by slow growth rates and high longevities, could be considered vulnerable to the gear used in blackspot seabream fishery; this implies the need for more research, monitoring, protection and sustainable management.

Mytilineou C, Smith C J, Anastasopoulou A, et al., in press. New Cold-Water Coral Occurrences in the Eastern Ionian Sea: Results From Experimental Long Line Fishing, Deep Sea Research Part II: Topical Studies in Oceanography, 2013, doi:10.1016/j.dsr2.2013.07.007. Article.

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