The World's Largest Forest of Rare Black Coral Found in Mediterranean

black coral photo

Photo: ISPRA
Hidden Treasures in the The Strait of Messina
A new survey of the Mediterranean sea bed discovered what is thought to be the world's largest black coral forest, a rare species. It's located in the strait of Messina, between Italy and Siciliy, in the Mediterranean sea. "Using an underwater robot, marine biologists at Italy's Institute for Environmental Protection and Research (ISPRA) found almost 30,000 colonies of Antipathella subpinnata coral at a depth of between 55 and 100 meters (180 and 328 feet)."
Messina Strait image

Photo: NASA, public domain

From Discovery News:

"In that stretch of water, images taken by the robot showed a seascape completely dominated by spectacular tree-like colonies of black coral, some more than 1 meter (3.3 feet) high. This is the first time these rare species are observed in their natural habitat," biologist Eva Salvati told Discovery News. [...]

The most highly sought after of all coral species for their use in jewelry, all black corals are listed on Appendix II of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which records species at risk of extinction if trade is not controlled.

Esoteric trivia: Black coral amulets were once believed to protect against diseases and evil spirits.

More at Discovery News
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