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Check Out This ‘Bubblegum Coral’ at the Ocean's Deepest Depths

A recent expedition to the explore marine life in the Marianas region of the Pacific has uncovered stunning new video of bubblegum coral, and the strange creatures who make these aquatic structures their home.

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Researchers with the NOAA Ocean Explorer team stumbled upon the bubblegum coral, also known as Paragorgia arbore, while exploring the Marianas Region on June 17, 2016 at depths of 1,700 feet.

Stunning video captured by the Okeanos Explorer show the vibrant red coral with a panoply of strange critters slithering around and clinging to the biological structure. The science team is particularly intrigued by the green filaments on the bubblegum coral given the complete lack of light at the seafloor. The researchers figure it’s either some kind of sponge or algae that’s gotten caught on the coral.

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The researchers were also intrigued by a worm-like brittle star, or ophiuroids, that’s clinging very tightly to the coral. A crab and several other strange creatures could be seen loitering around. “It’s a little oasis for all kinds of life,” noted one of the marine scientists.

[NOAA Ocean Exploration and Research]

George is a senior staff reporter at Gizmodo.

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DISCUSSION

I think that crab’s actually a Coral Squat Lobster, maybe Gastroptychus?

Which aren’t really lobsters, but also aren’t crabs. Nature likes annoying taxonomists. ;)

The brittle star is probably Asteroschema, they’re all cool and snakey, ChrisM over at Echonoblog did a neat article on them once I think (he’s kind of the source of half of the cool echinoderm articles out there)

Yes, I’m a nerd.