Exotic corals, usually found in “warmer waters”, may be making a home for themselves along the coast of Wales.
Seasearch Wales divers discovered the pink sea fan and the scarlet and gold cup coral have already moved into the Irish Sea from the Mediterranean and North Africa.
Backed by the Countryside Council for Wales’s marine division and the Heritage Lottery Fund, they are now trying to determine whether species are arriving on warm currents carried by the Gulf Stream across the Atlantic from the Caribbean.
“The currents boost the sea-water temperature around our coast which is not only good news for those who want to go swimming, surfing and diving but also fantastic when it comes down to a whole host of marine wildlife, including warm water corals,” said a CCW spokesman.
The pink sea fan is a soft coral with a horny skeleton and a fan like structure of branches.
It is one of the few marine species protected by UK law.
The scarlet and gold cup coral is also a nationally scarce species.
Diver Jen Jones said: “The northernmost point for records of both the corals is close to Strumble Head, Pembrokeshire. So the search is on to find more records further north.”
Seasearch, part of Sea Britain 2005, is a national project for volunteer sports divers.
The main aim is to map out the various types of seabed and exactly what lives around the whole of the British Isles.
The project helps identify the richest sites for marine life, sites where there are problems and sites which need protection.
CCW marine conservation officer and Seasearch coordinator Kate Lock said: “It encourages us all to take a fresh look at the sea.”
Source: Daily Post