Sir David Attenborough supports corals website

Sir David Attenborough said that one of the corals was 'probably the oldest living organism on this planet'

A new website designed to raise awareness of cold-water corals and their conservation will premiere a new short film from one of the world's best-loved naturalists.

The more that's being discovered, the more we realise how precious, diverse, important and endangered these cold-water corals are

Sir David Attenborough

Sir David Attenborough has given his support to the website - www.lophelia.org  - created by Dr Murray Roberts and his colleagues in the School of Life Sciences at Heriot-Watt University. The School will air his latest visual masterpiece at a launch to be held on Thursday 27 January.

The film, which focuses on cold-water corals and the threats they face, underpins Dr Roberts' aim to publicise the importance of their conservation in Scotland and around the world.

The informative and dynamic website will also act as an important information resource to engage both young and old, those in education and those simply curious about these most ancient of ecosystems.

Raising awareness of coral conservation

Dr Roberts said: "To have the backing of such a well known and respected figure as Sir David Attenborough is a great support to our work in raising awareness of cold-water corals and the significance of their conservation.

"People always associate corals with tropical reefs but in fact corals form hugely important centres of marine life in the deep ocean. These cold-water corals have been largely out of sight and out of mind - Sir David Attenborough's new film will help change that."

To have the backing of Sir David Attenborough is a great support to our work in raising awareness of cold-water corals and the significance of their conservation

Dr Murray Roberts

Importance of cold-water  corals

Sir David Attenborough said: "We are now discovering that cold-water corals are probably more abundant and widespread across the oceans of the world than tropical corals.

"They are very remarkable: one cold-water coral is 4000 years old, probably the oldest living organism on this planet. The more that's being discovered the more we realise how precious, diverse, important and endangered these cold-water corals are."

Research & conservation work

Dr Roberts discovered the only known inshore coral reef in Scottish waters in 2003 at the Mingulay Reef Complex. His laboratory team  is currently studying the ecology and vulnerability of cold-water coral ecosystems, particularly in relation to climate change and the threats of ocean warming and acidification.