The findings of a deepsea NOAA mission were published today, revealing that several new coral species were discovered a mile below the ocean surface. Six of the seven new corals may represent new coral genera which is quite a startling discovery considering how novel these corals are. The new corals belong to a group called the Bamboo Corals because of the straight and rigid branches these corals develop. The slow-growing corals produce reliable growth rings which allows them to be aged with good accuracy. One coral specimen discovered on this mission was found to be 4000 years old! That’s almost as old as the longest lived organisms on earth, the bristlecone pine. With all the discoveries happening on the seafloor these days, it’s a wonder why we have multimillion dollar robots scouring the surface of Mars looking for any life but if we want a peek at the bottom of the ocean which is full of life, we need to dive down to spots of interest one at a time. Time for NASA and NOAA to get their priorities straight. Photo credit: Hawaii Deep-Sea Coral Expedition 2007/NOAA.