Mesophotic Coral Ecosystems (MCEs) extend from 30 m (100 ft) to greater than 100 m (330 ft) and are characterized by the low availability of light for photosynthesis and the presence of corals, sponges and algae as the dominant structural components. Little is known of their distribution, abundance, productivity and susceptibility due to difficulties of working at depths beyond the range of conventional SCUBA diving.

This brightly colored rare Pastel Soft Coral, Neospongodes portoricensis (top left), filmed from the ROV (top center) in southern PR waters, inhabits mesophotic reef walls (top right) and overhangs. Snapshot of the ROV recording was taken south of Caja de Muertos, Ponce PR.

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