Distribution and Structure of Deep-Water Oculina Varicosa Coral Reefs off Central Eastern Florida
Data on the distribution and growth-form of the scleractinian Oculina varicosa were compiled from 135 submersible dives with the Johnson-Sea-Link submersibles and 57 dredge and trawl records by the R/V Gosnold and R/V Aquarius. A deep-water form of O. varicosa, lacking zooxanthellae, was found in depths of 50 to 100 m off central eastern Florida. These colonies are arborescent with highly anastomosed, irregular dendritic branches. Over 50 sites were located at which living colonies of O. varicosa from 0.25 to 2 m diameter occur either singly or as sparsely scattered groups. Nine areas were found with massive thickets of contiguous colonies up to 2 m in height. Extensive banks of Oculina thickets were found at five locations. The banks have a relief of 17 to 24 m and steep slopes of 30–45°, especially on the south side which faces into the Florida Current. The structure of these thickets and banks is very similar to deep-water Lophelia prolifera banks. Temperatures on the Oculina banks ranged from 7.5 to 26.5°C and had a yearly mean of 15°C.
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Document Type: Research Article
Publication date: July 1, 1980
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