National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) scientists have recently discovered a "secret garden" of corals in the deepest parts of the Gulf of Mexico during a 23-day expedition of exploring uncharted waters and mapping the seafloor.
Scientists were astonished to find the vibrant alien world of bamboo corals by using a remote-operated submersible (ROV) about 7,500 feet down.
Other than the discovery, what was more astonishing is about the life that flourished in the dark abyss that tells us about the environment. "This is a truly magnificent garden of coral fans, I don't think we've seen these densities yet in the Gulf of Mexico," said one of the expedition's scientists, according to Business Insider.
What are bamboo corals?
Bamboo corals (family Isididae) are actually collections of tiny organisms called polyps and they eat by filtering even smaller organisms like plankton. The skeleton of a bamboo coral resembles tree-like branches and are made of calcium carbonate.
What does the discovery signify?
Scientists believe that the corals are hundreds or even thousands of years old and that means the blocks they are sitting on are extremely stable as they need the right geology underneath to attach themselves.
Also, the corals need access to current not only to position themselves accordingly but also to feed. In a video shared by NOAA, the marine invertebrates are seen facing the current to maximize their chances of filtering other tiny organisms. Corals (both deep sea and their shallow-water counterparts) need enough food to be available in their surroundings in order to live.
The deep sea is truly a treasure trove for scientists. They often come across incredible discoveries from the region, which are difficult to explore. After all, according to NOAA, it is only five percent of the sea that we have explored. Only time will tell what surprises the deep trenches hold for us.