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Occurrences of cold-water corals in the Koster Fjord and Hvaler Deep, northeast Skagerrak

 

In the NE Skagerrak there is a system of troughs channeling deep oceanic water with Atlantic origin into areas that normally wouldn't be characterized as deep sea (i.e. the Fjord effect). Due to this you can find cold-water corals and other deep sea benthic fauna as shallow as 80 m. The diversity of the deep benthos of the area is unique in Swedish coastal seas, and this has lead to the establishment of the first marine national park in Sweden. At the same time, Norway established a national park in the adjacent Hvaler area. Together the two national parks cover an area of 800 square kilometers. The University of Gothenburg established a marine biological field station in the area already in 1963 due to the Fjord effect and unique fauna.

Maps of the global distribution of Lophelia pertusa you can find at the NOAA's Coral Reef Information System (CoRIS) or in the UNEP-WCMC document "Cold-water coral reefs: out of sight - no longer out of mind" by André Freiwald et al. The latter is a very informative document describing several cold-water coral species and their distribution, biology, ecology, and threats.

 

Freiwald A., Fosså J.H., Grehan A., Koslow T., Roberts M.J. (2004) Cold-water coral reefs: out of sight - no longer out of mind, UNEP-WCMC, Cambridge, UK
  North Sea and Skagerrak - the red rectangle marks out the study area in the northeast Skagerrak and northern Bohuslän. The Norwegian Trench brings deep Atlantic water into the area.
             
 
  The Norwegian and Swedish archipelagos with the bathymetry of the deep Koster Trough visible and cold-water coral reefs marked out by red circles.
             
 
 

The marine biological field station is marked out in the map as SLC (Sven Lovén Centre of Marine Sciences), previously known as Tjärnö Marine Biological Laboratory.

The red circles marks out live reefs in the area, and the yellow circles mark out sites where there has been live reefs. The last two decades only dead coral fragments have been found here. At the site marked with a red asterisk two small live colonies were found in summer 2010, and it's not known yet whether these are survivors from the old reef or new recruits.

The mapping of cold-water corals by means of ROV-technology in the area started in 1998 by Tomas Lundälv and Lisbeth Jonsson. Read more at the ROV project homepage.

 

 

More information about the marine national park you can find at the County Administrative Board homepage (Länsstyrelsen).

Koster Sea Marine National Park