Deep-Sea "Nursery" Found Off California

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Perhaps the two species aggregate because they use similar strategies when it comes to caring for their offspring, added Drazen, "the [Gorda Escarpment] sites could be particularly advantageous for brooding eggs."

Even though we've only just discovered these communities, we may already have to look towards conserving them, commented deep-sea biologist John Gage at the Scottish Association for Marine Science in Oban, who commended the find. "The exploitation potential of such aggregations can make the organisms highly vulnerable," he said, pointing to the example of the orange roughy, a deep-sea fish found near Australia and elsewhere.

That deep-ocean species is known by fishermen to aggregate on seamounts and submarine ridges. The fish were "famous for having been subject to serial depletion," said Gage. Fisherman in trawlers swept them up to order, trashing corals and entire seamount communities in the process, he said.

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