Discovery of deep-water coral frameworks in the northern Red Sea waters of Saudi Arabia

Mohammad A. Qurban, Periyadan K. Krishnakumar, Thadickal V. Joydas, Karuppasamy P. Manikandan, T. T. M. Ashraf, Goutham Sampath, Duraisamy Thiyagarajan, Song He, Stephen D. Cairns

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Abstract This paper reports a deep-water coral framework (a single colonial bush or a larger bioconstruction of coral covering the sea bottom), formed entirely by the scleractinian coral Eguchipsammia fistula (Alcock, 1902) (Dendrophylliidae), in the northern Red Sea waters of Saudi Arabia at a depth of about 640 m. The framework consists of mostly live corals with a total area of about 10 m$^{2}$ and the length of the individual coral branches range from 12 to 30 cm. Although E. fistula is ubiquitous, this discovery is the second record of a framework formed by this species and the first discovery of a large living reef in the Red Sea. The results of the genetic study indicate the potential existence of a genetic variation of E. fistula in the Red Sea. This discovery implies that the Red Sea has favorable habitats for framework-forming DWC species and highlights the need for conducting more systematic surveys for understanding their distribution, abundance, and ecology.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Sep 18 2020

Bibliographical note

KAUST Repository Item: Exported on 2020-10-01
Acknowledgements: We thank the Center for Environment & Water, Research Institute, King Fahd University of Petroleum & Minerals, Dhahran, Saudi Arabia, for providing research facilities. The authors thank the ROV Max Rover operation team, scientists, technicians, and crew of the Research Vessel RV Aegaeo, belonging to the Hellenic Centre for Marine Research (HCMR), Greece, for their skilful support during the cruise. Sequences have been deposited in NCBI GenBank under accession numbers [Submission ID: 2328258 16S and 2328249 IGR] (Eguchipsammia fistula).


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