One of the challenges of deep coral research is convincing people that deep corals form habitat for other animals, animals of particular concern, like fish or crabs, or endangered species like the Hawaiian Monk Seal. Precious coral beds with large colonies of Gerardia sp. 550m deep in the French Frigate Shoals support higher fish densities than adjacent areas, and monk seals forage in these coral beds (Parrish 2006- free paper alert!). Managers can rest a little easier knowing monk seals love corals, too.
In the video above, a marked monk seal dives down to a deep coral bed to strut his numbers in front of the camera for amazed researchers in the PICES submersible. It’s an “a-ha” moment – the megavertebrate connection. So glad its on YouTube.