A cold water coral (Lophelia pertusa)
|Researched by||Frances Peckett & Dr Samantha Garrard||Refereed by||Admin|
|Other common names||-||Synonyms||Lophelia prolifera (Linnaeus, 1758)|
The coral forms large bushy colonies which can be fixed to the substratum or free. The polyps are translucent and have up to 50 tentacles with obsolete terminal knobs. The colour is white, pink or yellowish. In British and Irish waters, Lophelia pertusa colonies occur in groups which are no more than 5-10 m in diameter and often smaller. Individual polyps are connected by their external calcareous skeletons. The skeletons of individual polyps are up to 12 mm in diameter.
Recorded distribution in Britain and IrelandRecorded mainly off the continental shelf. Most records are from west Scotland and Ireland. Some specimens recorded from deep (ca. 50-100 m) inshore waters in Scotland. Also known from the North Sea attached to oil industry structures.
Global distributionIn the North Atlantic, Mediterranean, along the east and west Atlantic coasts, around the mid-Atlantic islands south to Tristan da Cunha, from southern California and Cobb Seamount in the Pacific, the Indian Ocean and the Macquarie Ridge off New Zealand.
HabitatOccurs on soft bottoms usually in excess of 150 m and occasionally in shallower inshore waters. Rarely found attached to solid substrata.
- Forms bushy colonies which are generally no larger than 5-10 m in diameter, but may join together to form larger reefs.
- Polyps have up to 50 tentacles.
- Translucent polyps which are white, pink or yellowish in colour.
- Generally found in areas with strong currents.
Recent molecular studies have suggested that the genus Lophelia is synonymised with Desmophyllum so that Lophelia pertusa becomes a synonym of Desmophyllum pertusum (see WoRMS). However, the molecular evidence is uncertain at present (2021) so that we have not applied the revision. We will revise this page once further evidence becomes available.
Lophelia pertusa reefs provide a habitat for a variety of species and the living and dead coral skeletons provide a biodiversity 'hot spot' on the edge of the continental shelf (Jensen & Frederiksen, 1992; Mortensen, 2001). The deep waters where Lophelia pertusa reefs occur were undisturbed by human activity until recently. Fishing trawlers are now operating in the deeper water where Lophelia pertusa occurs and causing damage to the reefs (e.g., Hall-Spencer et al., 2002). Oil extraction from deeper waters may possibly cause damage to the reefs (see e.g., Roberts, 1997; Rogers, 1997, 1999). The implementation of the Habitats Directive to the limits of the EEZ and the adoption in 1998 of a new Annex to the OSPAR Convention (1992 Convention for the Protection of the Marine Environment of the North East Atlantic) may offer an opportunity to protect important deeper water or offshore habitats and species, such as Lophelia pertusa. For further information see COR.Lop.
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This review can be cited as:
Last Updated: 23/07/2003