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Pacific Islands Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Initiative Final Report

April 12, 2021

In May 2014, scientists and resource managers representing stakeholders from government, academia, and conservation groups met in Honolulu, Hawaii, to identify critical information needs for deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems.

Deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems are found throughout the U.S. Pacific Islands on the current-exposed slopes of undersea volcanic basalt, drowned reef carbonate, and limited sedimentary features.

In some geographic regions of the Pacific Islands, deep-sea corals and sponges are extremely diverse and abundant. Many different species of fishes and invertebrates, and even Hawaiian monk seals, are associated with the communities formed by these animals.

While the vast size and great distances between the U.S. Pacific Islands has precluded any comprehensive effort to survey the deep- sea corals and sponges in the region, NOAA’s Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program (DSCRTP), in partnership with NOAA’s Office of Exploration and Research (OER), enabled a field research program in the Pacific Islands region.

Between 2015–2017 they provided a first look at deep-sea coral and sponge ecosystems in the marine monuments throughout the region, and in other areas of interest such as hydrothermal vents and seeps, isolated seamounts, and mid-water biological and chemical characterization.

This report only covers the deep-sea coral and sponge research.


Parke M, Kelley C, Putts M, Moriwaki V, Bingo S, Elliot K, Smith J, Montgomery A, Parrish F, Kahng S, et al. 2021. Deep-Sea Coral Research and Technology Program: Pacific Islands Deep-Sea Coral and Sponge Initiative Final Report. U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA Technical Memorandum NOAA-TM-NMFS-PIFSC-117, 123 p.  https://doi.org/10.25923/j6vh-ca45.

Last updated by Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center on 12/10/2021

Deep-Sea Corals Sponges