There are a variety of deep-sea animals known as Bamboo Corals but little is known about them due to the depths at which they live. In general, they can be identified by their slender structure with alternating branches which resemble the terrestrial bamboo plant.
Like all corals, Bamboo Coral is created by colonies of marine invertebrates which secrete calcium carbonate as they grow. When the animal dies, this cement-like structure remains behind. Through this process, coral reefs can grow to massive proportions as successive generations build upon older structures.
This appears to be a very long-lived species, with specimens ranging dramatically in age from 125 to 4,000 years old. Bamboo Coral reefs provide important ecosystems for other deep-sea animals and an opportunity for scientists to assess how the ocean has changed over long periods through the study of their chemical structure.
Bamboo Corals have been found in deep-sea areas of the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans.
The status of Bamboo Corals is unknown due to the depths at which they occur. However, they are frequently destroyed by human fishing practices such as bottom trawling and like other corals are vulnerable to warming ocean temperatures and sea level rise caused by climate change as well as ocean acidification.
Photo credit: NOAA Ocean Explorer.