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Advancing Deep-Sea Coral Video Identification

Project Goal

To improve the taxonomic identification of deep-sea corals captured on videotape and develop regional photo databases of key species that can be used by future U.S. and international researchers.

Geographic Location

International, with an initial focus on the North Atlantic


NOAA partnered with international collaborators at the French Marine Research Institute (IFREMER) and the University of Plymouth, UK to develop an image database catalog of in situ images of North Atlantic deep-sea corals with agreed and corrected taxonomic identifications for the corals and associated text descriptions and images suitable for identification of corals from image and video data.  The work builds upon an existing model for deep-sea taxa from waters of the United Kingdom (Howell & Davies, 2010).

Importance to Management

Underwater images and video now represent the primary source of information on the locations of deep-sea corals, but taxonomic identification without specimens in hand remains problematic.  The project enhances the capabilities by U.S. scientists to accurately identify deep-sea corals from video surveys and helps improve the comparability of datasets derived from video surveys by researchers from different countries.   If this small pilot is successful, NOAA hopes to expand the image database to include other regions in the future and serve the information on the web.


Howell, K.L., Davies, J.S. (2010) Deep-sea species image catalogue. Marine Biology and Ecology Research Centre, Marine Institute at the University of Plymouth. On-line version http://www.marlin.ac.uk/deep-sea-species-image-catalogue/

Fiscal Year 2012 Funding


Point of Contact

Thomas Hourigan, Tom.Hourigan@noaa.gov