It has been reported that scientists working with the Marine Institute and National Parks and Wildlife Service have recently discovered the deepest known cold water coral reef in Irish waters at a depth of 1600 m below sea level.
Deep water corals are similar to their warm water counterparts in that they secrete the same hard skeleton that forms the structure of the reef. Most shallow water corals gain energy from photosynthetic organisms living within their tissues. However, the deep water corals live completely in the dark and so have to catch their own food.
Cold water corals are thought to be an important habitat as an area of food and shelter for many fish species and as such these are classified as a protected feature for Marine Protected Areas (MPAs).