Cold water corals

Corals are tiny invertebrate animals which form colonies and eventually build up to create a coral reef which can live for thousands of years. Although they cover less than 0.2% of the oceans, coral reefs are estimated to harbour as many as a quarter of all marine species.

Beautiful cold water coral can be found in the deeper areas of the Celtic Sea*.

Lophelia pertusa
The main coral in the Celtic Sea* is called Lophelia pertusa, and this species forms reefs and also carbonate mounds down to around 1000 metres in depth. Like tropical coral reefs, these areas have high biodiversity. They provide shelter and home to a vast array of other marine life such as sponges, cod, ling, squat lobsters, molluscs, starfish, and sea urchins.

The pink sea fan
This coral used to be collected as souvenirs in the 1960s but since then, numbers have dwindled. It’s a particularly vulnerable species, susceptible to bottom trawling for scallops or careless knocks from scuba divers. The pink sea fan is fully protected against killing, taking or injuring, and sale and is seen as a priority species for conservation in the UK. It can be found in the Marine Nature Reserves of Lundy and Skomer.

* includes Western Channel