First description of a Lophelia pertusa reef complex in Atlantic Canada
Peer reviewed, Journal article
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Original versionDeep-sea research. Part II, Topical studies in oceanography. 2017, 126 21-30. 10.1016/j.dsr.2017.05.009
For the first time, we describe a cold-water coral reef complex in Atlantic Canada, discovered at the shelf break, in the mouth of the Laurentian Channel. The study is based on underwater video and sidescan sonar. The reef complex covered an area of approximately 490×1300 m, at 280–400 m depth. It consisted of several small mounds (< 3 m high) where the scleractinian Lophelia pertusa occurred as live colonies, dead blocks and skeletal rubble. On the mounds, a total of 67 live colonies occurred within 14 patches at 300–320 m depth. Most of these (67%) were small (< 20 cm high). Dead coral (rubble and blocks), dominated (88% of all coral observations). Extensive signs of damage by bottom-fishing gear were observed: broken and tilted coral colonies, over-turned boulders and lost fishing gear. Fisheries observer data indicated that the reef complex was subjected to heavy otter trawling annually between 1980 and 2000. In June 2004, a 15 km2 conservation area excluding all bottom-fishing was established. Current bottom fisheries outside the closure include otter trawling for redfish and anchored longlines for halibut. Vessel monitoring system data indicate that the closure is generally respected by the fishing industry.