#MARINE WILDLIFE - Might there be evidence of coral reefs in the Irish Sea? Johnny Woodlock of the Irish Seal Sanctuary believes so.
Writing for Wildlife Extra, the Sea Fishery Advisory Group member recalls seeing a piece of coral that a former commercial trawler skipper said he had found in one of this nets more than 20 years ago while fishing off the Isle of Man.
Woodlock says he identified the sample as Lophelia pertusa, a coldwater coral that thrives in deeper water and one that was not previously linked to the Irish Sea, according to the records of the Marine Institute and the National Parks and Wildlife Service.
Then this past August, when Woodlock uncovered a similar piece of coral and identified it as the same species, he was able to find out the co-ordinates where both pieces had been netted and forwarded them to the Marine Institute.
Though the area of the Irish Sea in question "has been heavily trawled by larger boats pulling heavier nets for a number of years", Woodlock remains hopeful that the Marine Institute can find evidence of living coral in the depths.
Often mistaken for plant life, coral is actually a compact colony of very simple marine wildlife called polyps, encased in a skeleton of calcium carbonate which gives them their solid appearance.