Dr. Erik Cordes, an associate professor in Temple University’s Department of Biology recently made headlines with his research into a newly discovered coral reef off the coast of South Carolina.
Cordes and his team of researchers, known as the DEEP SEARCH team, descended to the sea floor using a deep sea sub known as ALVIN.
After a long eight hours of diving, the crew discovered an entirely intact and healthy reef along the seafloor which extends for nearly 85 miles.
The reef, otherwise known as “Lophelia” to Cordes and his team, is a true anomaly: it’s been found much further out and much deeper than other reefs of its species.
“We knew that this one coral formed large mounds and reefs in the area, but this is further offshore and deeper than we’d ever anticipated,” Dr. Cordes said about his recent discovery.
Using ALVIN, Cordes’ team collected various samples and footage from the site. They took careful measures not to shock or kill the sensitive organisms since their habitat on the bottom of the seafloor is far colder and more pressurized than conditions
at the surface.
The area in which the reef was discovered is, however, in danger of environmental damage.
Dr. Cordes mentioned that there is a tentative plan in place by oil companies to use this area as a natural drilling site, which may put these environments at risk.
“The mid Atlantic region, especially off North Carolina and Virginia are areas that they’re really targeting and looking at as potential areas to began leasing for oil exploration” Dr. Cordes stated.
DEEP SEARCH hopes to use their new findings to influence policy and raise awareness to avoid harming or damaging valuable ecosystems like these.
With Temple being a top-tier research university, Dr. Cordes and his study are contributing to the groundbreaking discoveries being made on campus and beyond.