A 2008 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a sample of black coral (class Anthoza, order Antipatharia) collected from the Gulf of Mexico at a depth of 300 meters, with a 15-cm ruler at ... more 
A 2008 photo provided by the U.S. Geological Survey shows a sample of black coral (class Anthoza, order Antipatharia) collected from the Gulf of Mexico at a depth of 300 meters, with a 15-cm ruler at base for scale. For the first time, scientists have been able to validate the age of deep-sea black corals in the Gulf of Mexico.  They found the Gulf is home to 2,000 year-old deep-sea black corals, many of which are only a few feet tall.  These slow-growing, long-living animals thrive in very deep waters—300 meters (984 feet) and deeper—yet scientists say they are sensitive to what is happening in the surface ocean as well as on the sea floor.  less 
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Associated Press | Photo By U.S. Geological Survey, Ken Sulak
Thu, Mar 31, 2011 12:56 PM EDT