Canadian Coral Hunting


160_sea_creature_070730.jpgA three-week Canadian expedition recently finished that documented a protected area near Sable Island referred to as the Gully. The Gully is the largest submarine canyon in eastern North America, approximately the size of the Grand Canyon. The submersible expedition can be classified as a success obtaining 3,000 digital images, hours of video footage, and multiple samples. One of the goals of the expedition was to increase knowledge on the distribution of deep-water corals. The team discovered a new species of bubblegum coral, a single-cell organism the size of a grapefruit (Xenophyophore), and a colony of Lophelia (stony coral).

“We really didn’t know what we would find when we went out there because it was all new to us,” Ellen Kenchington, a research scientist at the Bedford Institute of Oceanography in Halifax, N.S. told CTV’s Canada AM. “Previously we had been working at depths to about 700 metres. With the new technology that we had…we could go two and a half kilometres. So it was fantastic.”


Image Credits and Legends in order of appearance:
Map from the Sable Island Green Horse Society
A ‘Dumbo octopus’ found off the coast of eastern Canada from
Soft coral (yellow) from Nova Scotia News.

A carnivorous sponge from the genus Chondrocladia. from Nova Scotia News.

Dr. M (1729 Posts)

Craig McClain is the Assistant Director of Science for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center, a National Science Foundation supported initiative. He has conducted deep-sea research for 20 years and published over 50 papers in the area. He has participated in and led dozens of oceanographic expeditions taken him to the Antarctic and the most remote regions of the Pacific and Atlantic. Craig’s research focuses on how energy drives the biology of marine invertebrates from individuals to ecosystems, specifically, seeking to uncover how organisms are adapted to different levels of carbon availability, i.e. food, and how this determines the kinds and number of species in different parts of the oceans. Craig’s research has been featured on National Public Radio, Discovery Channel, Fox News, National Geographic and ABC News. In addition to his scientific research, Craig also advocates the need for scientists to connect with the public and is the founder and chief editor of the acclaimed Deep-Sea News (, a popular ocean-themed blog that has won numerous awards. His writing has been featured in Cosmos, Science Illustrated, American Scientist, Wired, Mental Floss, and the Open Lab: The Best Science Writing on the Web. His forthcoming book, Science of the South (, connects cultural icons of South such as pecan pie with the science behind them.

5 comments on “Canadian Coral Hunting
  1. A single-celled organism the size of a grapefruit?! Wow. Is there a picture of it? Or is that the critter in the last (uncredited) photo?

  2. I thought all sponges are predators. They take seawater inside their body through many microscopic channels, filter it for food and gather everything into a wide chute and to the sea.

  3. Most sponges are filter feeders as you mention. Collar cells phagocytize particles out of the water that enters through the canals.These cells have flagella that create the current and draw the particles into the cell. These particles can be any matter of materials in the water column. Carnivorous sponges on the other hand have modified spicules (shaped like hooks) that entrap small crustaceans and the such. Once things are caught in the hook, cells mobilize toward the prey and phagocytize it.

Comments are closed.