Bubblegum Coral

collected in 1991
Scientific Name:
Paragorgia arborea

Not every coral lives in the tropics and not all corals build reefs. In the deep waters of the Northeast Pacific, there is a spectacular species of ‘soft’ coral that rivals the splendor of any tropical, reef-building coral. Given their ecological importance, slow growth, and species epithet arborea, Bubblegum Corals may be described best as ‘old growth trees of the sea’.

This particular specimen was collected in 1991, just south of Moresby Island, Haida Gwaii at 100-125 metres depth. Commonly known as Bubblegum Coral on account of its pink, knobby branches, this species provides habitat for other deep-water invertebrates, including the beautiful Basket Star Gorgonocephalus eucnemis.

Because Bubblegum Corals live beyond the reach of sunlight, they do not host photosynthetic algae like their tropical cousins, and instead rely on their polyps to catch tiny prey. The species is an extremely slow grower (just 2 cm per year), but can easily reach over 2 metres in size, suggesting that colonies can be very old.