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  • Writer's pictureScott Finch

Unveiling the Hidden Treasure: Coral Exploration in Gran Canaria

You think Preparing to embark on a thrilling adventure or plunging into the mesmerising depths of Gran Canaria's azure waters is all we do here at GO DIVING?.

Sea coral

Our journey isn't just about exploration—it's a quest to uncover the hidden treasures that lie beneath the waves, and today we are particularly focusing on the captivating coral species that call this vibrant ecosystem home. Teaming up with marine biologist Kaila Wheatley Kornblum, a PhD Research Student from Exeter University, we're on a mission to unlock the secrets of these underwater wonders.

Gran Canaria boasts an extraordinary array of marine life, but one species stands out as an enigmatic mystery today, the Pink fan Cora. Despite the presents of gorgonian coral in these waters, the elusive sea fan coral remains a mystery. Our work with Kaila Wheatley Kornblum is driven by a shared passion for understanding and preserving these fragile ecosystems. Through our efforts, we aim to shine a spotlight on the importance of coral research and why it matters for the future of Gran Canaria's marine biodiversity.

Corals are not only breathtakingly beautiful but also crucial hubs of biodiversity, supporting a vast array of marine life. However, they face numerous threats, including climate change, pollution, and habitat destruction. By studying coral species like the sea fan coral, we gain crucial insights into their ecology, resilience, and potential vulnerabilities. This research isn't just academic—it's a vital step towards safeguarding these ecosystems for future generations.

Join us today as we dive into the heart of Gran Canaria's coral kingdom, Coral Exploration in Gran Canaria fueled by curiosity, passion, and a deep-seated commitment to conservation. Together with Kaila Wheatley Kornblum,, let's try and unravel a mystery of the sea here in Gran Canaria.

So Kaila can you explain a little bit about what you are trying to do ?.

Hello I am Kaila Wheatley Kornblum A PhD Research Student at Exeter university UK.

I contacted GO DIVING Center for help with a Canarian mystery, The pink sea fan (Eunicella verrucosa). This Coral is a cold-water gorgonian octocoral with a distribution ranging from northwest Ireland to the Mediterranean. Recognised as a priority species in Great Britain under the UK Wildlife and Countryside Act 1981, many marine protected areas (MPAs) have been designated to safeguard priority species like the pink sea fan. However, for MPAs to achieve their goal of protecting marine biodiversity, a comprehensive understanding of population connectivity and limiting factors at range edges is critical.


Our aim is to address the knowledge gaps in pink sea fan life history and connectivity using a multidisciplinary approach that harnesses molecular ecology, life history aquaria experiments and histology, as well as ocean dynamic modelling. Whole genome sequencing captures genetic variation across the species’ range; preliminary analysed has revealed fine-scale patterns of connectivity and potential evidence of adaptation at range edges. Life history analyses are ongoing to understand gonadal development timing and elucidating reproductive processes, growth rates, and temperature-related pelagic larval duration. These novel data will allow us to build species-specific particle tracking models to simulate connectivity across the species' range, which will offer insights into settlement locations and population dynamics within and between MPAs and non-MPA populations, as well as how the species’ range may shift under climate change.


In summary, by integrating genomics, biological and life history data, and ocean dynamic modelling, we aim to evaluate the current effectiveness of MPA networks in preserving connectivity among populations of the pink sea fan in the UK and beyond.


Thanks Kaila, thats a very exciting project.

So what is our role here in Kaila’s work?. no one spends more time in the water than local dive experts, we are guiding and seeing the environment every day, nothing beats our eyes in the water. When researchers are looking for field evidence they come to people like us. Coral Exploration in Gran Canaria, We are working with Kaila to provide photo evidence and locations of possible examples of the pink sea fan coral here in Gran Canaria. This is an exciting challenge as its a BIG ocean for a coral to hide.

As our exploration of Gran Canaria's marine wonders continues, and as we keep looking for examples of the Pink Sea Fan here in our waters, we extend our thanks to Kaila, for her invaluable expertise and dedication to the ocean. Through her research, we've gained a deeper understanding of the of coral mysteries of the Canary Islands and the urgent need to protect these precious ecosystems. Join us in our mission to preserve the beauty and diversity of our oceans, ensuring that future generations can continue to marvel at the wonders beneath the waves, come and dive with us today.

Thanks everyone and if this story has excited your interest for the Pink Sea Fan or the Gorgonian Corals here on the island, contact us and lets take you on a n adventure!.


Scott Finch

Co Owner and Instructor at GO DIVING Center


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