Rare Black Coral Forest Found in Italy, But Location Still a Secret
Italian researchers said they've found one of the largest forests of rare black coral in the world, but for fear of tipping off plunderers, they're keeping the location a secret. Not only is it home to black coral, but also another coral species never before studied in the wild. According to Reuters, the coral forest is about the size of two soccer fields, and is submerged at a depth of 50-100 meters between mainland Italy and the island of Sicily. And thanks to new advancements in underwater technology, the related species of coral found within the patch - Antipathes dicotoma - can finally be studied in its natural habitat. Until now, there were only 5 fragments of it, held in museums, according to Simone Canese, chief researcher of the project. The scientists are now gathering the first images of them alive and in their natural environment.
Studying coral reefs is of increasing importance as oceans warm and become more acidic. NOAA released (again) news that oceans have hit record high temperatures, which can cause stress and bleaching of corals. Additionally, acidification caused by increased carbon dioxide levels in the atmosphere is dissolving corals and making them more prone to diseases.
The health of corals is tied directly to climate change, and as they're a key component to many economies worldwide, let alone ecosystems, hopefully focusing on the health of this cornerstone species can help us reach effective climate change goals.
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