Feeding

Food supply is related to primary production in surface waters (White, 2005) and hydrodynamics for the movement of  phyto-detrital matter down to the benthic layer, where it becomes available through internal wave flows to the coral polyps (Fredriksen et al., 1992; White et al., 2005). Cold-water corals lack symbiotic zooxanthellae (Roberts et al., 2009) and compensate by suspension feeding with large tentacles (Fig.5 and b). It has been hypothesised that deep-water corals may indirectly obtain nutrition from gas seeps, referred to as the ‘Hydraulic theory’ (Hovland, 1990), but this is debatable and little evidence has been produced in support of the theory.

Fig.fb. Suspension feeding red gorgonian coral and associated fauna. Courtesy of NOAA.

Fig.5a. Coral polyps extended. Courtesy of NURP NOAA

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