The pink sea fan Eunicella verrucosa
(Cnidaria, Anthozoa, Alcyonacea) can form coral forests at mesophotic depths in the Mediterranean Sea. Despite the recognized importance of these habitats, they have been scantly studied and their distribution is mostly unknown. This study reports the new finding of E. verrucosa
forests in the Mediterranean Sea, and the updated distribution of this species that has been considered rare in the basin. In particular, one site off Sanremo (Ligurian Sea) was characterized by a monospecific population of E. verrucosa
with 2.3 ± 0.2 colonies m−2
. By combining new records, literature, and citizen science data, the species is believed to be widespread in the basin with few or isolated colonies, and 19 E. verrucosa
forests were identified. The overall associated community showed how these coral forests are essential for species of conservation interest, as well as for species of high commercial value. For this reason, proper protection and management strategies are necessary.
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