Conservation status of upper-mesophotic octocoral habitats at Sporades Archipelago (Aegean Sea)

Giovanni Chimienti, Michela Maiorca, Markos Digenis, Dimitris Poursanidis

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Octocoral forests created by the yellow sea fan Eunicella cavolini and the red sea fan Paramuricea clavata were studied at the National Marine Park of Alonissos Northern Sporades (Aegean Sea, Greece), between 30 and 45 m depth, in order to assess their conservation status and the occurrence of both natural and anthropogenic stressors. The area was characterized by rich and dense coral forests, with densities up to 55.2 colonies m−2 for E. cavolini and 28.0 colonies m−2 for P. clavata. The coral population showed signs of stress, although mortality was low. A combination of stressors linked to global warming and fishing impacts, including macroalgal epibiosis, tip necrosis, increasing coral feeders, and abandoned fishing gears, could impair the status of these habitats in the near future. Although the effects of climate change are global, local conservation actions may reduce direct anthropogenic impacts and enhance habitats' resilience.
Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)114868
JournalMarine Pollution Bulletin
StatePublished - Mar 28 2023

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2023-04-03
Acknowledgements: The authors declare the following financial interests/personal relationships which may be considered as potential competing interests: Dimitris Poursanidis reports financial support was provided by Thalassa Foundation.This work is part of the project “The Coral gardens of Alonissos Northern Sporades Marine Park” funded by the Thalassa Foundation, without which this work would not have been possible. We warmly acknowledge the Eforate of Underwater Antiquites for the special permission for Science Dive operations, and the Management Body of the Alonnisos Northern Sporades Marine Park for the support. We are also grateful to Panos Anagnostou and the Alonissos-Seacolours dive center for the technical support during diving operations.


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