Abstract:

Poster was prepared for the 5th International Deepsea Coral Symposium, 1 - 6 April 2012

Deepwater octocorals in the Southern Ocean are poorly known even though they represent one of the most diverse and abundant coral groups in these regions. Multiple surveys of seamounts around Australia by CSIRO Marine and Atmospheric Research (CMAR) collected a great unrecognised diversity of octocorals, increasing the number of species recorded from deep Australian waters from 6 to >150 (CMAR unpub. data). Due to the inadequate and outdated nature of the taxonomic literature from the area it remains impossible to confidently identify them, however a significant number have been shown to be undescribed taxa. Trawling, long-line fishing and climate change all pose significant threats to these vulnerable coral communities and there is an urgent need to increase understanding of the diversity, extent and connectivity of the populations.

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