Letter | Published:

Precious Coral

Naturevolume 25page552 (1882) | Download Citation



I WAS very much interested in Prof. Moseley's note on “Precious Coral,” which appeared in NATURE (vol. xxv. p. 510). During, or rather after our deep-sea explorations in the Mediterranean, last summer, the Washington passed a week exploring the coral-yielding banks between Sicily and Cape Bon (Africa); we were also therefore on the coral-banks of Sciacea. Most of the coral I saw—I mean, of course, precious coral—was dead and blackened, and I saw large quantities in the same state, and from the same locality at Naples. At the extreme edge of the Sciacea bank is the extinct volcano, now covered with a few fathoms of water, known as Ferdinandea or Graham's Island. I believe that the eruption of that volcano may explain the quantities of dead coral around. As to the black colour, I am of opinion that it may be due to the decomposition of organic matter, rather than to the presence of binoxide of manganese; some of the bottom samples which I collected at various depths, turned quite black after a few weeks. The disappearance of the black colour on prolonged exposure to the sun, would, I believe, confirm my view. It must also be borne in mind that precious coral, in the Mediterranean at least, never is found in mud or in muddy waters, but grows mostly on a regular coral-rock formed by Madrepora of different species.

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  1. R. Istituto di Studi Superiori in Firenze



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