Les Watling: Biology of Deep-Water Octocorals (Pew Marine Fellow, 1998)

“To most people, the concept of a deep-water coral is an oxymoron,” writes Les Watling, professor of biological oceanography at the University of Maine, in the chapter he penned in the 2011 book Advances in Marine Biology. Watling continues by writing that, in fact, the existence of these species was for a long time known only to a handful of scientists and a large number of fishermen. Over the last decade or so, he writes, there has been a surge of interest in deep-sea octocorals. “It was quickly recognized that deep-sea corals of all kinds were vulnerable to the impacts of fishing that was expanding from the continental shelf to the slope, seamounts and ridges. While there is much now known about deep-sea octocorals, the literature is scattered and needs to be summarized so we can better understand what we know, and what we yet need to know.

In this review, we document what is known about taxonomy, phylogeny, biogeography, ecology and reproductive biology of deep-sea octocorals, using both published and as yet unpublished information, and will highlight areas where knowledge is especially lacking.”

The book, Advances in Marine Biology, is available for purchase on the Science Direct website.