Bamboo coral

Last updated

Bamboo coral
Isidella tentaculum - NOAA.jpg
Isidella tentaculum (Gulf of Alaska)
Scientific classification Red Pencil Icon.png
Kingdom: Animalia
Phylum: Cnidaria
Class: Anthozoa
Order: Alcyonacea
Suborder: Calcaxonia
Lamouroux, 1812
This bamboo coral branches at the gorgonin internodes 2 isidella skeleton 500.jpg
This bamboo coral branches at the gorgonin internodes
Fragments of fossil Keratoisis melitensis (Goldfuss, 1826) from the Lower Pleistocene of Cape Milazzo, Sicily, Italy. Keratoisis melitensis (Goldfuss, 1826).jpg
Fragments of fossil Keratoisis melitensis (Goldfuss, 1826) from the Lower Pleistocene of Cape Milazzo, Sicily, Italy.

Bamboo coral, family Isididae, is a family of mostly deep-sea coral of the phylum Cnidaria. [1] [2] It is a commonly recognized inhabitant of the deep sea, due to the clearly articulated skeletons of the species. [3] Deep water coral species such as this are especially affected by the practice of bottom trawling. These organisms may be an important environmental indicator in the study of long term climate change, as some specimens of bamboo coral have been discovered that are 4,000 years old. [4]

The deep sea or deep layer is the lowest layer in the ocean, existing below the thermocline and above the seabed, at a depth of 1000 fathoms or more. Little or no light penetrates this part of the ocean, and most of the organisms that live there rely for subsistence on falling organic matter produced in the photic zone. For this reason, scientists once assumed that life would be sparse in the deep ocean, but virtually every probe has revealed that, on the contrary, life is abundant in the deep ocean.

From the time of Pliny until the late nineteenth century...humans believed there was no life in the deep. It took a historic expedition in the ship Challenger between 1872 and 1876 to prove Pliny wrong; its deep-sea dredges and trawls brought up living things from all depths that could be reached. Yet even in the twentieth century scientists continued to imagine that life at great depth was insubstantial, or somehow inconsequential. The eternal dark, the almost inconceivable pressure, and the extreme cold that exist below one thousand meters were, they thought, so forbidding as to have all but extinguished life. The reverse is in fact true....(Below 200 meters) lies the largest habitat on earth.

Coral Marine invertebrates of the class Anthozoa

You like ice cream?

Cnidaria Animal phylum

Cnidaria is a phylum under Kingdom Animalia containing over 11,000 species of animals found exclusively in aquatic environments: they are predominantly marine.



Relatively little is known about bamboo coral. [5] [6] The skeletons of bamboo coral are made up of calcium carbonate in the form of tree-like branches alternating with joint-like nodes or axes composed of gorgonin protein. [7] [8] The alternation of the bony structures with the smaller gorgonin parts give the bamboo coral a finger-like appearance similar to that of the bamboo plant on land. [7] Bamboo coral was reported in 2005 to have been found on a dozen seamounts in the Pacific Ocean between Santa Barbara, California, and Kodiak, Alaska. [9] Although the ages and growth rates for most deep water coral are not yet available, specimens of bamboo coral found in the Gulf of Alaska have been estimated to have a life span of 75 to 126 years, based on radiocarbon-based growth rate and age data. [10]

Calcium carbonate Chemical compound

Calcium carbonate is a chemical compound with the formula CaCO3. It is a common substance found in rocks as the minerals calcite and aragonite (most notably as limestone, which is a type of sedimentary rock consisting mainly of calcite) and is the main component of pearls and the shells of marine organisms, snails, and eggs. Calcium carbonate is the active ingredient in agricultural lime and is created when calcium ions in hard water react with carbonate ions to create limescale. It is medicinally used as a calcium supplement or as an antacid, but excessive consumption can be hazardous.

Gorgonin is a complex protein that makes up the horny skeleton of the holaxonia suborder of gorgonians. It frequently contains appreciable quantities of bromine, iodine, and tyrosine.

Bamboo subfamily of plants

The bamboos are evergreen perennial flowering plants in the subfamily Bambusoideae of the grass family Poaceae. The word "bamboo" comes from the Dutch or Portuguese languages, which probably borrowed it from Malay.

Recently, a mission funded by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) discovered seven new species of bamboo coral in the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a U.S. National Monument lying primarily in deep waters off the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, using the Pisces V . Of these seven new species, six may represent completely new genera (that is, major new classification categories). Data from these findings are still being analyzed. [11] A bamboo coral "tree", five feet tall, was described for the first time by the mission. Scientists also found an area of dead coral, about 10,000 square feet (930 m2) and more than 2,000 feet (610 m) deep. The cause of death of the coral community is unknown but it is estimated to have occurred several thousand to perhaps over a million years ago. [12]

National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration US government scientific agency

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration is an American scientific agency within the United States Department of Commerce that focuses on the conditions of the oceans, major waterways, and the atmosphere.

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument national monument in the United States

The Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is a World Heritage listed U.S. National Monument encompassing 583,000 square miles (1,510,000 km2) of ocean waters, including ten islands and atolls of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Created in June 2006 with 140,000 square miles (360,000 km2), it was expanded in August 2016 by moving its border to the limit of the exclusive economic zone, making it one of the world's largest protected areas. It is internationally known for its cultural and natural values as follows:

"The area has deep cosmological and traditional significance for living Native Hawaiian culture, as an ancestral environment, as an embodiment of the Hawaiian concept of kinship between people and the natural world, and as the place where it is believed that life originates and to where the spirits return after death. On two of the islands, Nihoa and Makumanamana, there are archaeological remains relating to pre-European settlement and use. Much of the monument is made up of pelagic and deepwater habitats, with notable features such as seamounts and submerged banks, extensive coral reefs and lagoons."

Northwestern Hawaiian Islands small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain

The Northwestern Hawaiian Islands or the Leeward Islands are the small islands and atolls in the Hawaiian island chain located northwest of the islands of Kauai and Niihau. Politically, they are all part of Honolulu County in the U.S. state of Hawaii, except Midway Atoll, which is a territory distinct from Hawaii and grouped as one of the United States Minor Outlying Islands. The United States Census Bureau defines this area, except Midway, as Census Tract 114.98 of Honolulu County. Its total land area is 3.1075 square miles (8.048 km2). All the islands except Nihoa are north of the Tropic of Cancer, making them the only islands in Hawaii that lie outside the tropics.

Deep sea bamboo coral provides the ecosystems to support deep sea life and also may be among the first organisms to display the effects of changes in ocean acidification caused by excess carbon dioxide, since they produce growth rings similar to those of a tree and can provide a view of changes in the condition in the deep sea over time. Some bamboo coral can be especially long-lived; coral specimens as old as 4,000 years were found at the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, giving scientists a window into the ocean's past. One scientist said the coral provided "4,000 years worth of information about what has been going on in the deep ocean interior". [4] Deep water coral organisms such as bamboo coral are especially affected by the practice of bottom trawling. [9] Other research has raised the possibility that Isididae corals, because of their potential to mimic biological properties, may potentially be used as living bone implants as well as in aquatic cultivation. [7]

Ocean acidification Ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earths oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide

Ocean acidification is the ongoing decrease in the pH of the Earth's oceans, caused by the uptake of carbon dioxide (CO
) from the atmosphere. Seawater is slightly basic (meaning pH > 7), and ocean acidification involves a shift towards pH-neutral conditions rather than a transition to acidic conditions (pH < 7). An estimated 30–40% of the carbon dioxide from human activity released into the atmosphere dissolves into oceans, rivers and lakes. To achieve chemical equilibrium, some of it reacts with the water to form carbonic acid. Some of the resulting carbonic acid molecules dissociate into a bicarbonate ion and a hydrogen ion, thus increasing ocean acidity (H+ ion concentration). Between 1751 and 1996, surface ocean pH is estimated to have decreased from approximately 8.25 to 8.14, representing an increase of almost 30% in H+ ion concentration in the world's oceans. Earth System Models project that, by around 2008, ocean acidity exceeded historical analogues and, in combination with other ocean biogeochemical changes, could undermine the functioning of marine ecosystems and disrupt the provision of many goods and services associated with the ocean beginning as early as 2100.

Carbon dioxide chemical compound

Carbon dioxide is a colorless gas with a density about 60% higher than that of dry air. Carbon dioxide consists of a carbon atom covalently double bonded to two oxygen atoms. It occurs naturally in Earth's atmosphere as a trace gas. The current concentration is about 0.04% (410 ppm) by volume, having risen from pre-industrial levels of 280 ppm. Natural sources include volcanoes, hot springs and geysers, and it is freed from carbonate rocks by dissolution in water and acids. Because carbon dioxide is soluble in water, it occurs naturally in groundwater, rivers and lakes, ice caps, glaciers and seawater. It is present in deposits of petroleum and natural gas. Carbon dioxide is odorless at normally encountered concentrations, but at high concentrations, it has a sharp and acidic odor.

Bottom trawling

Bottom trawling is trawling along the sea floor. It is also referred to as "dragging". The scientific community divides bottom trawling into benthic trawling and demersal trawling. Benthic trawling is towing a net at the very bottom of the ocean and demersal trawling is towing a net just above the benthic zone.


The following genera are currently described in the family Isididae: [13]

A genus is a taxonomic rank used in the biological classification of living and fossil organisms, as well as viruses, in biology. In the hierarchy of biological classification, genus comes above species and below family. In binomial nomenclature, the genus name forms the first part of the binomial species name for each species within the genus.

<i>Acanella</i> genus of cnidarians

Acanella is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral of the family Isididae, containing the following species:

Acanthoisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral of the family Isididae.

Annisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae. It is monotypic with a single species, Annisis sprightly.

Related Research Articles

Seamount A mountain rising from the ocean seafloor that does not reach to the waters surface

A seamount is a mountain rising from the ocean floor that does not reach to the water's surface, and thus is not an island, islet or cliff-rock. Seamounts are typically formed from extinct volcanoes that rise abruptly and are usually found rising from the seafloor to 1,000–4,000 m (3,300–13,100 ft) in height. They are defined by oceanographers as independent features that rise to at least 1,000 m (3,281 ft) above the seafloor, characteristically of conical form. The peaks are often found hundreds to thousands of meters below the surface, and are therefore considered to be within the deep sea. During their evolution over geologic time, the largest seamounts may reach the sea surface where wave action erodes the summit to form a flat surface. After they have subsided and sunk below the sea surface such flat-top seamounts are called "guyots" or "tablemounts".

Alcyonacea order of cnidarians

Alcyonacea, or soft corals, are an order of corals that do not produce calcium carbonate skeletons. Formerly known as gorgonians, they are sessile colonial cnidarians found throughout the oceans of the world, especially in the tropics and subtropics. Common names for subset of this order are sea fans and sea whips and are similar to the sea pen, a soft coral. Individual tiny polyps form colonies that are normally erect, flattened, branching, and reminiscent of a fan. Others may be whiplike, bushy, or even encrusting. A colony can be several feet high and across, but only a few inches thick. They may be brightly coloured, often purple, red, or yellow. Photosynthetic gorgonians can be successfully kept in captive aquaria.

New England Seamounts A chain of more than 20 seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean

The New England Seamounts are an underwater chain of seamounts in the Atlantic Ocean stretching over 1,000 km from the edge of the Georges Bank off the coast of Massachusetts. The chain consists of over twenty extinct volcanic peaks, many rising over 4,000 m from the seabed. It is the longest seamount chain in the North Atlantic and harbours a diverse range of deep sea fauna. Scientists have visited the chain on various occasions to survey the geologic makeup and biota of the region. The chain forms part of the Great Meteor hotspot track, having formed by the movement of the North American Plate over the New England hotspot. The oldest volcanoes that were formed by the same hotspot are northwest of Hudson Bay, Canada. Part of the seamount chain is protected by Northeast Canyons and Seamounts Marine National Monument.

Kodiak–Bowie Seamount chain A seamount chain in southeastern Gulf of Alaska stretching from the Aleutian Trench in the north to Bowie Seamount

The Kodiak–Bowie Seamount chain, also called the Pratt–Welker Seamount chain and the Kodiak Seamounts, is a seamount chain in southeastern Gulf of Alaska stretching from the Aleutian Trench in the north to Bowie Seamount, the youngest volcano in the chain, which lies 180 km (112 mi) west of the Queen Charlotte Islands, British Columbia, Canada. The oldest volcano in the chain is the Kodiak Seamount. Although the Kodiak Seamount is the oldest extant seamount in the Kodiak-Bowie chain, the adjacent lower slope contains transverse scars indicating earlier subduction of seamounts.

Davidson Seamount Underwater volcano off the coast of Central California, southwest of Monterey

Davidson Seamount is a seamount located off the coast of Central California, 80 mi (129 km) southwest of Monterey and 75 mi (121 km) west of San Simeon. At 26 mi (42 km) long and 8 mi (13 km) wide, it is one of the largest known seamounts in the world. From base to crest, the seamount is 7,480 ft (2,280 m) tall, yet its summit is still 4,101 ft (1,250 m) below the sea surface. The seamount is biologically diverse, with 237 species and 27 types of deep-sea coral having been identified.

<i>Pisces V</i> deep-submergence vehicle

Pisces V is a type of manned submersible ocean exploration device, powered by battery, and capable of operating to depths of 2,000 metres (6,600 ft), a depth that is optimum for use in the sea waters around the Hawaiian Islands. It is used by scientists to explore the deep sea around the underwater banks in the main Hawaiian Islands, as well as the underwater features and seamounts in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, specifically around Loihi Seamount.

Australisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae. It is monotypic with a single species, Australisis sarmentosa.

Caribisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae. It is monotypic with a single species, Caribisis simplex.

Chelidonisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae.

<i>Isidella</i> genus of cnidarians

Isidella is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae.

Myriozotisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae.

Lepidisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae. It contains the following species:

<i>Keratoisis</i> genus of cnidarians

Keratoisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae, containing the following species:

Primnoisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae.

Sclerisis is a genus of deep-sea bamboo coral in the family Isididae.

Marine habitats A habitat that supports marine life

Marine habitats are habitats that support marine life. Marine life depends in some way on the saltwater that is in the sea. A habitat is an ecological or environmental area inhabited by one or more living species. The marine environment supports many kinds of these habitats.


  1. "Isididae". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  2. "Deep-Sea Corals Portal". Retrieved 2009-07-08.
  3. Scott C. France (2007). "Genetic analysis of bamboo corals" (PDF). Bulletin of Marine Science . 81 (3): 323–333.
  4. 1 2 "National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – New Deep-Sea Coral Discovered on NOAA-Supported Mission". Archived from the original on 9 May 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  5. Peter Etnoyer. "NOAA Ocean Explorer: Exploring Alaska'a Seamounts". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  6. "Isididae – GBIF Portal". Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  7. 1 2 3 H. Ehrlich; P. Etnoyer; S. D. Litvinov; M. M. Olennikova; H. Domaschke; T. Hanke; R. Born; H. Meissner; H. Worch (2006). "Biomaterial structure in deep-sea bamboo coral (Anthozoa: Gorgonacea: Isididae): perspectives for the development of bone implants and templates for tissue engineering". Materialwissenschaft und Werkstofftechnik. 37 (6): 552–557. doi:10.1002/mawe.200600036.
  8. "New Isidella bamboo coral". X-Ray International Dive Magazine. Archived from the original on 31 March 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  9. 1 2 "The Deep Sea Conservation Coalition – Press Release". Archived from the original on 27 April 2009. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  10. E. B. Roark; T. P. Guilderson; S. Flood-Page; R. B. Dunbar; B. L. Ingram; S. J. Fallon; M. McCulloch (2005). "Radiocarbon-based ages and growth rates of bamboo corals from the Gulf of Alaska" (PDF). Geophysical Research Letters . 32 (4): L04606. Bibcode:2005GeoRL..32.4606R. doi:10.1029/2004GL021919. Archived from the original (PDF) on 2014-04-17. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  11. "Discovery – 7 New Species Of Bamboo Coral Near Hawaii". 2009-03-05. Archived from the original on 2013-02-01. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  12. "New species of bamboo coral identified off Hawaii". Archived from the original on 2009-03-26. Retrieved 2009-05-11.
  13. L. van Ofwegen (2011). "Isididae". WoRMS. World Register of Marine Species . Retrieved January 17, 2012.