Researchers from the University of Miami have been investigating mesophotic coral reefs. (Courtesy of the University of Miami)
Researchers from the University of Miami have sampled along mesophotic coral reefs in the U.S. Virgin Islands, according to a release. The reefs, which make a living in low-light conditions, are valuable records of the bottom-dwelling organisms that help form the shallow-water reefs more common today.
Scientists believe that these mesophotic reefs were the birthplaces of today’s coral reefs, which likely came about after the deeper-water corals migrated to more shallow waters. And so understanding how the deep reefs evolved can give a greater understanding of how common corals, which support many organisms on their own and have aided other scientific discoveries, came about.
U. of Miami researchers gathered samples at four different mesophotic reefs in the Virgin Islands, in addition to others taken from two shallow reef sites nearby. The sediments were analyzed to determine chemical, biological and physical properties. The scientists also gathered data on wave movements at the sites to determine that the sedimentary sample deposits were derived within the reefs.
Top image: Researchers from the University of Miami have been investigating mesophotic coral reefs. (Courtesy of the University of Miami)