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Deep-water corals in Maltese waters.

This paper reports the occurrence of living deep-water corals, Lophelia pertusa and Madrepora oculata, from stations 21-42 km off the southern and south-western coast of Malta. Fragments of living colonies of both species, as well as some large pieces of Lophelia frameworks were recovered from depths of 390-617 m together with the solitary coral Desmophyllum dianthus (= cristagalli). The accompanying biota included the barnacle Pachylasma giganteum, the gastropod Coralliophila richardi, the bivalves Asperarca nodulosa and Spondylus gussonii, and the polychaete Eunice norvegicus, all of which are frequently associated with deep-water corals. The occurrence of the Lophelia-Madrepora-Desmophyllum triad, the large pieces of coral frameworks consisting predominantly of live, healthy polyps, and the associated biota, suggest that coral patches may be present in at least some of the investigated localities, rather than just fragmented remains or isolated colonies. 

Schembri P.J., Dimech M., Camilleri M. & Page R. (2007). Living deep-water Lophelia and Madrepora corals in Maltese waters (Strait of Sicily, Mediterranean Sea). Cahiers de Biologie Marine 48: 77-83. 



Deep-water coral Lophelia pertusa trawled from a depth of c.600m from the South Malta Coral Province (photo © Daniel Schembri).



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