22 Life in all its colour

The world of Lophelia pertusa is cold and dark – but stunningly colourful. Unlike tropical corals, the beauties of the cold are not fed by photosynthesizing algae. They catch plankton drifting by.

In close proximity to Lophelia pertusa, the bright pink “bubblegum coral” Paragorgia arborea thrives. The two species jointly provide a habitat for basket stars, crabs, shrimps, fish and many other organisms.

Laboratory experiments revealed that with respect to ocean acidification, cold-water corals are tougher than expected. Nonetheless, ocean acidification might weaken the foundation of these communities so rich in species and colours created by Lophelia pertusa.

Photo: Solvin Zankl