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Habitat-forming deep-water (a.k.a. cold-water) coral ecosystems are known to serve as important components of the world's oceans and seas. One of the principal species of branching scleractinian corals that form deep-water assemblages is the tuft coral Lophelia pertusa. Generally, these corals are very slow to develop and fragile. As a result they are vulnerable to sustaining damage that if extensive can require years for recovery, if at all. Unfortunately this situation is already occurring globally principally due to destructive fishing practices and secondarily as a consequence of activities associated with exploration and extraction of fossil fuels. In light of the continuing expansion of oil and gas activities into the deep Gulf of Mexico (GoM), there is a crucial need to understand the basic biology and functional ecology of these unique systems, and ultimately to determine appropriate management strategies for their protection.