Scottish Association of Marine Science (SAMS)
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The objective of the Mapping INshore Coral Habitats or MINCH project was to assess the current distribution and status of cold-water coral habitats to the east of the Island of Mingulay. A series of additional areas were examined in the Sound of Rum and to the west of Skye. Reefs formed by the cold-water coral Lophelia pertusa were identified in the surveys to the east of Mingulay where they formed characteristic seabed mounds. These mounds were clearly seen on the multibeam bathymetry and backscatter data records. The backscatter also revealed intriguing 'trails' extending downstream from some of these mounds. Their composition and cause are currently unknown. This information was summarised in the MINCH Geographic Information System (GIS) project. While there are some indications that small colonies of L. pertusa are present at each for the study areas, clear evidence for significant reef development was only found at Mingulay. We propose that this area be referred to as the Mingulay Reef Complex. Further work is now needed to characterise the diversity of the reef-associated community, record the hydrodynamic regime and complete detailed visual surveys of the reef habitat.