Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania

1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #302557 by james
james created the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
A little over a year ago myself and another diver from the Tasmanian SCUBA Diving Club discovered a black coral tree whilst undertaking an exploratory dive on a pinnacle that rises up from 70 to 40m off Cape Tourville on the East Coast of Tassie.

Scientists tell us this is the first record of tree forming black coral recorded in Australian coastal waters. The coral looks very similar to that found in shallow water in Milford Sound, New Zealand, but likely to be a new species, a sample collected on a later dive has been sent to experts for identification, and believe it has made its way to the US. The specimens we have come across were all found in waters deeper than 50m. We have found more black coral trees on a reef about 6NM east of Bicheno, which rises up from 80 to 60m.

Whilst the coral looks white, they called black corals because the hard internal skeleton is black.

Below is a video of our discovery.


Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by james.

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1 year 3 months ago #302559 by AB
AB replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
What a great find, but looking at how rich and diverse the bottom growth is there, it's probably not so surprising. Hope they confirm the species soon, who knows, maybe Antipathes jamesii ??

Alan

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1 year 3 months ago #302560 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Yeah there could be a 1000 new species there, but the black coral sticks out like the proverbial.

Not holding my breath regarding naming, given that the very common golden zoanthid has not been described or given a scientific name yet.

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1 year 3 months ago #302561 by Carl_Fallon
Carl_Fallon replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Interesting to read this. We have a site near us that has the same type of tree growing. I have only seen the one. Would be interesting to get some footage and i will send it to you to see if it is the same in your opinion as well.

Similar area to what you explain. About 30m in a area with current all the time. Was found in bottom of gutter which the current runs through.

You definitely have me thinking!

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1 year 3 months ago #302569 by Michael McFadyen
Michael McFadyen replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Lots of black coral trees at Fish Rock at South West Rocks. Must be at least 20 of them, have been there at least 20 years, but lots more now than before. Possibly a different species.

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1 year 3 months ago #302570 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Our discovery of the black coral got a bit of media coverage, below video produced by the Marine Biodiversity HUB released yesterday which kicked it all off.



And a bit more media

www.australiangeographic.com.au/news/201...-filmed-off-tasmania

www.abc.net.au/news/2016-08-25/deep-dive.../7782660?section=tas

www.themercury.com.au/news/tasmania/dive...80599b93ce061408e14c

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1 year 3 months ago - 1 year 3 months ago #302571 by AB
AB replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Very similar to the deep (40+) reefs off Wilson's Prom, incredibly rich and seems to get richer as you get deeper, though I have yet to find black coral, fair chance there is some there. I'm a lo tech diver, so rarely venture below 50, and our RB divers focus on wrecks, so we have much yet to discover!

Alan

Last Edit: 1 year 3 months ago by AB. Reason: add pic

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1 year 3 months ago #302572 by slug
slug replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Great stuff James. Glad some-one is doing it, it's too deep for me! (Good video work too)

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1 year 3 months ago #302573 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Thanks Greg, hopefully we will get up your way for a bit diving in the magnificent NW over summer.

AB certainly plenty to explore, I loved reading about those guys who dived the drowned apostles for the first time earlier this year.

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1 year 3 months ago #302574 by AB
AB replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
James, apart from the deep reefs at the Prom, we are also looking to explore the steep eastern sides of a series of pinnacles called Cody Banks. Again, it will be limited as only oc air divers are interested, and the drop off starts at 30 then goes to 60 metres. As it's 20 k's offshore, few divers have ever been there, and probably no one has explored the drop-offs.

Plenty of new things to discover for those with the want!!

Alan

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1 year 3 months ago #302575 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Sounds great AB look forward to hearing about it and seeing a bit of video when you dive it.

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3 months 1 week ago - 3 months 1 week ago #303546 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
We have continued to explore Tassie deep reefs in the 50-70m range and have come across some magnificent specimens of black coral some approaching 2m tall!!! A true black coral tree.

It is amazing to think that no one hand any idea these amazing animals existed in southern Australian coastal waters until we started doing these dives.

Below is a link to a 3 minute video dive from a recent dive along with a frame grab from the video


www.facebook.com/tasscubadivingclub/videos/1420934077943739/


Last Edit: 3 months 1 week ago by james.

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3 months 1 week ago #303547 by AB
AB replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
Amazing reef, and so many black corals! Have to hope no one decides to harvest them.

Alan

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3 months 1 week ago #303549 by james
james replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
The black corals in the video are located in the Commonwealth Freycinet Marine Reserve, so are protected from any sort of harvesting.

In general I think the deep water gives them protection. Not many divers diving these areas and depths in Tassie , pretty much only our group.

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3 months 1 week ago #303550 by slug
slug replied the topic: Discovering Black Coral in Tasmania
You can have it to yourself as long as you continue to show and tell. :)

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