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Opportunity to name a new-to-science deep sea coral!

This World Ocean Day, 8 June 2024, the Deep Sea Conservation Coalition is inviting ocean lovers around the world to name a new-to-science deep-sea coral.

The new-to-science coral in need of a name was discovered by researcher and coral expert Dr Michelle Taylor (University of Essex) on Melville Bank seamount in the Southwest Indian Ocean during an expedition aboard the Royal Research Ship James Cook. The coral is part of the Thouarella genus, light yellow and plate-like in shape, and stands at just 11 cm tall. The branches are covered in hundreds of individual cylinder-shaped polyps. It is the shape and size of the scales on these polyps that make it different from every other species of Thouarella found so far.

To enter, please share your name suggestion alongside a 250-500 word explanation in the form below by 8 September 2024 at 23.59 CET.

The winning name will be selected by a panel of academics and explorers, led by Dr. Michelle Taylor based on a number of criteria including creativity, relevance and accuracy. The name will be announced at the Convention on Biological Diversity in Colombia, taking place in October 2024.

Please carefully read the terms and conditions of this opportunity, which outline everything you need to know.

Illustration of deep sea coral

To enter, please share your name suggestion alongside a 250-500 word explanation in the form by 8 September 2024 at 23.59 CET.

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    The deep sea is the largest habitat on Earth, supporting a rich abundance of life. In fact, scientists believe as many as 10 million different species live in the deep sea – a biodiversity as rich as tropical rainforests. Cold water corals are one species which are able to thrive in the depths  of the deep sea. Here are 5 interesting facts about deep-sea coral:

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    • Extreme Depth and Darkness: Unlike their shallow-water counterparts, deep-sea corals thrive at depths ranging from 200 meters to over 2000 meters below the ocean surface. At these depths, sunlight does not penetrate, so these corals do not rely on photosynthesis but instead feed on organic particles and plankton that drift down from above.
    • Ancient Ecosystems: Deep-sea coral reefs are some of the oldest living marine ecosystems. Some individual deep-sea coral colonies can live for thousands of years. For instance, the black coral Leiopathes has been found to live for over 4000 years, making it one of the oldest known marine organisms.
    • Cold Temperatures: Some deep-sea corals can survive in frigid waters with temperatures as low as 4°C, adapting to these extreme conditions by growing slowly and developing denser skeletons compared to their warm-water relatives.
    • Biodiversity Hotspots: Similar to shallow-water corals, deep-sea corals provide critical habitats for a diverse array of marine life. They serve as spawning grounds and shelters for numerous species of fish, invertebrates, and other marine organisms, contributing significantly to the biodiversity of the ocean.
    • Threatened by Human Activities: Despite their remote locations, deep-sea corals are under threat from human activities such as deep-sea trawling, mining, and climate change. Trawling, in particular, can cause significant damage or completely wipe out these fragile ecosystems by physically destroying the coral structures that have taken centuries to millennia to form