High coral cover at lower mesophotic depths: a dense Agaricia community at the leeward side of Curaçao, Dutch Caribbean
Coral cover at lower mesophotic depths (particular- ly >75 m) by zooxanthellate scleractinians is usually very scarce, largely due to the extremely low irradiance levels at these depths. An exception are the Leptoseris communities observed near the Hawaiian islands (Central Pacific) that form dense fields, supporting a broad range of associated organ- isms. Here, we describe a similar high-cover coral community at lower mesophotic depths, but in the Caribbean. The com- munity was observed on the leeward side of Curaçao (Southern Caribbean) using a manned submersible (Curasub), and was predominantly composed of plating Agaricia corals and an assemblage of reef fishes. Some of the fish species were known from similar depths at other lo- calities, whereas others obtained new depth records. Future surveys are required to establish the extent of similar high- coral communities around Curaçao, and more broadly in the western Atlantic.