Scientific Name: Paragorgia arborea
Collector: Stanley Gorham, May 28, 1963
Location: Atlantic Ocean, Labrador Sea (about 361 air kilometres East of Northern tip of northern peninsula, Newfoundland);
Material/Medium/Support: Dry specimen
Accession # 1963-242
Catalogue #: CMNI 2009-0013
Institution Name: Canadian Museum of Nature
Paragorgia arborea is a species of cold-water coral found on the ocean banks of Atlantic Canada. It is a treasure because of its colourful beauty, its importance to the ecosystem, and the relative rarity of coral in Canadian waters. This specimen was collected in 1963 at a depth of about 550 m on the edge of the Northeast Newfoundland Shelf. It is now on display in the Canadian Museum of Nature’s new Water Gallery.
Called the Sea Tree by fishermen, the coral’s broad but delicate, long branches grow from a trunk in response to the movement of the surrounding water. Polyps are part of a soft layer surrounding the trunk. The polyps extend their bodies to feed. trapping plankton and organic particles in the passing currents using their adhesive tentacles.
Paragorgia arborea and other corals provide shelter for fish and other marine life.
Their development is slow. If damaged, coral can take hundreds of years to recover. Cold-water coral forests in Atlantic Canada and around the globe have been seriously threatened by large-scale trawl fishing. Canada is committed to providing protection for these cold-water coral habitats. International accords are also being put in place to ensure the future protection of these delicate ecosystems and associated cold-water sea corals.
Sonya Ines O’Campo-Gooding
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