Oculina Coral Banks 2003
Questions & Answers
April 29th, 2003

Question: Do these deep water reefs have a symbiotic relationship with zooxanthallae like other coral reefs? Have these reefs been affected by coral bleaching?
Ms. Norman's Marine Science Class at Ashley Hall H.S., Charleston, SC

Answer: I would like to thank you and your class for your interest in the deepwater Oculina Coral Reefs. The deepwater Oculina within the protected area lacks zooxanthellae, the symbiotic algae that live within the tissue of shallow reef corals. This is the primary difference between deep and shallow water coral species. Deepwater corals may grow down to depths of over three thousand feet. Since they lack algae they do not need sunlight. Shallow water corals use the symbiotic Algae for food and oxygen. And the algae remove carbon dioxide and waste from the coral tissue. Oculina is an unusual species in that in deep water it lacks zooxanthellae however it also grows in shallow water with zooxanthellae. Oculina actually grows throughout the Caribbean and up to Bermuda in shallow water. However the shallow water form of Oculina only forms single small colonies and does not for the massive reefs like the deepwater form. As far as we know the massive deep water Oculina reefs are only found off of Eastern Florida.

Question: Do the researchers conduct studies along the way to Oculina or do they just enjoy the ride?
Ms. Morton's Marine Science Class at North Charleston H.S., Charleston, SC

Answer: The transit time from port to the Oculina site is approximately teo to three hours and normally we transit at night. In some cases we may take water sample or sediment samples to or from the site.

Ph. 843-953-7263
Project Oceanica
Dept. of Geology & Environmental Geosciences
College of Charleston
Charleston, SC 29424
Fax 843-953-7850