‘The Maine Question’ asks how cold-water corals impact marine ecosystems, Earth

When people think of coral reefs, they might imagine snorkeling in warm Caribbean waters while on vacation. But corals also live in the Gulf of Maine and in some of the most extreme environments on Earth, including the Arctic and Antarctic. 

What do these cold-water corals look like? What roles do they have in the ecosystem? Rhian Waller, associate professor of marine sciences, answers these questions and more when she talks with host Ron Lisnet in Episode 8 of Season 3 of “The Maine Question” podcast.

Like their warm-water cousins, these cold-water creatures play a vital role in the ocean ecosystem. It’s not easy to find or study them, but Waller, a National Geographic Explorer, dives deep in near-freezing water around the world to learn more about what she calls the rainforests of the ocean. 

Waller examines how cold-water corals live and reproduce; how climate change, fishing and oil exploration affect their ecology and reproduction; and what effect their altered life cycle might have on the marine ecosystem and, ultimately, the planet. 

In this episode of “The Maine Question,” Waller talks about the science of studying cold-water corals and about adventures that are part of this work.

Listen to the podcast on iTunes, Google Podcasts, SoundCloud, Stitcher, Spotify or “The Maine Question” website. New episodes are added Thursdays.

Do you have topics that you’d like to learn more about? What questions would you like UMaine experts to answer? Email them to mainequestion@maine.edu.