When we think of the state of Maine in the Northeast United States, we tend to think of lobsters and clam chowder. But as it turns out, there’s a really rich coral reef right off the coast of this northerly state.
Using a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, scientists working with NOAA were able to survey the marine life living near the sea bottom off of Maine. What they found was not only a huge diversity of corals, anemones, fish and invertebrates, but an incredibly diverse assemblage of these creatures.
If you’ve watched any ROV video feed like the one from the Okeanos Explorer, you’ll know that usually the deep sea floor is pretty sparse, almost a desert. This is not the case with the marine ecosystem off the coast of Maine. One look at this video and the amazing density of corals and other animals is more reminiscent of a shallow water tropical ecosystem than a deep sea one.
What makes the Maine coral reefs very special is that they are much shallower, about 200 meters (656 feet), and much closer to shore than more typical seafloor ecosystem. This is especially encouraging because it allows marine ecologists to spend less time getting to the habitat, and more time actually surveying the ecosystem with their ROVs. This video is tantalizingly short, but it packs in more marine life sightings than an hour of footage in much deeper habitats.