We present the results of the first study to highlight the demography, morphometry and growth rates of Spinimuricea klavereni, a rare Mediterranean endemic gorgonian exceptionally common in shallow depths of the Northeast Marmara Sea. In the study area, this species forms vast populations on rocks, boulders and attached to pebbles/stones/shells on soft substrates between 20 and 45 m depth, with a total average density of 0.3 coloniesm2 but comprising patches up to 3 coloniesm2 . Colonies, which are on average 42.9 (20.1) cm in height, can reach up to 110 cm. Unlike other Mediterranean gorgonians, the colonies studied here showed fast growth rates that decreased with increasing colony height, between 1.5–11.1 and 4.96 3.01 cmyear1 on average. The low necrosis and high growth rates displayed by this species in the Northeast Marmara Sea confirm the previously hypothesized opportunistic behaviour of the species. The unique community consisting of S. klavereni and other rare gorgonian/soft corals has limited distribution in this area and should be considered to be a vulnerable marine ecosystem. Therefore we recommend that some conservation measures are taken, including the prohibition of all fisheries and anchoring over these assemblages.
Octocorallia (Soft Corals)
Turkey - Sea of Marmara
SCUBA (open-circuit or unspecified)