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Googling the Gulf: #4

 

Outside of Hawaii, Florida is the only state to have extensive coral reef formations near its coasts.

Coral reefs grow only in specific ecosystems with the right depth and temperature of water, and the right mix of nutrients and wave action.

In addition to being some of the most beautiful and biologically diverse habitats in the ocean, coral reefs are also some of the oldest.

One of the slowest growing deep sea corals in the Gulf of Mexico — black coral — has been found to be up to 2,000 years old.

With growth rates of 0.3 to 2 centimeters per year, a casual observer would need to watch black coral for hundreds of years to notice any difference in its growth however. 

Fun Fact #1:  The black coral is such a notoriously slow grower that it has been proven it grows 2,000 times slower than human fingernails!

Fun Fact #2:  Not all black coral is black!

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