Advancing the 6th International Deep-Sea Coral Symposium

Timothy M. Shank  Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

Understanding the role, function and value of deep-sea coral ecosystems has become a priority topic for many national governments and international regional resource management bodies. Continuing in the tradition of past Symposia in Halifax, Canada, Erlangen, Germany (see Table below), the 6th International Symposium on Deep-Sea Corals will facilitate global exchange of current scientific knowledge and rapidly developing hypotheses on deep-water corals and their associated fauna and to discuss potential statutory means available to conserve and protect deep-sea habitat.

In the last decade, the global presence of deep sea, cold-water corals in a range of ocean margin settings has been established, and is still being expanded. Associated with the corals is the presence of huge carbonate mound structures and deep-sea reefs which contain unique records and a detailed history of ambient ocean water conditions over periods of rapid climate change. The coral reefs and mounds form very rich benthic habitats, of spectacular biodiversity, housing more coral species in deep cold-waters than in tropical coral reefs. Because of their function as a nursery for commercially important fisheries, in combination with increasing environmental pressures, the cold-water corals, reefs and mounds are seriously threatened and management and policy making is a must. The 6th International Deep Sea Coral Symposium addresses new developments and knowledge through a range of themes and topics and will take place in Boston, USA in the Spring of 2016.