Composition and abundance of octocorals in the Sea of Marmara, where the Mediterranean meets the Black Sea


  • Eda N. Topçu Istanbul University Fisheries Faculty - Turkish Marine Research Foundation
  • Bayram Öztürk Istanbul University Fisheries Faculty - Turkish Marine Research Foundation



octocoral, soft coral, gorgonian, sea pen, coralligenous, Marmara Sea


Species composition and abundance of octocoral assemblages were investigated in the Sea of Marmara, which forms the connection between the Mediterranean and the Black Seas, two semi-enclosed seas with peculiar oceanographic conditions. Fourteen octocoral species were collected in the saline layer of the Marmara Sea (20-40 m), with a mean coral abundance of 5.21±5.11 colonies m–2 (mean ± SD) calculated from a total of 1390 colonies counted in transects. In spite of severe anthropogenic disturbances, dense assemblages of corals/gorgonians were observed during this study. The coralligenous communities—one of the most valuable structures of the Mediterranean Sea—harbored either Eunicella cavolini or Paramuricea macrospina as the dominant gorgonian in the Marmara Sea. Furthermore, the gorgonian assemblages of the Marmara Sea differed from those of the Mediterranean in their high abundance of P. macrospina and Spinimuricea klavereni, two species rarely encountered in the Mediterranean Sea at the studied depth range. The factors behind the observed differences are discussed in regard to the particular oceanographic conditions of the Marmara Sea. Finally, we revised the main threats to corals/gorgonians in the Marmara Sea and provided some insights on management recommendations for coral conservation in this area.


Download data is not yet available.


Aguilar R. 2004. The corals of the Mediterranean. Oceana, Fundación Biodiversidad, Madrid, 86 pp.

Aguilar R., Pastor X., De la Torriente A., et al. 2009. Deep sea coralligenous beds observed with ROV on four seamounts in the western Mediterranean. In: UNEP – MAP – RAC/SPA, Proceedings of the 1st Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of the coralligenous and other calcareous bio-concretions. Tabarka, Tunis, pp 148-150.

Aktan Y., Dede A., Çiftci P.S. 2008. Mucilage event associated with diatoms and dinoflagellates in Sea of Marmara, Turkey. Harmful Algae News 36: 1-3.

Anderson M.J. 2001. A new method for non-parametric multivariate analysis of variance. Austral. Ecol. 26: 32-46.

Angeletti L., Taviani M., Canese S., et al. 2014. New deep-water cnidarian sites in the southern Adriatic Sea. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 15: 263-273.

Bakan G., Buyukgungor H. 2000. The Black Sea. Mar. Pollut. Bull. 41(1-6): 24-43.

Balkis N., Atabay H., Tu.retgen I., et al. 2011. Role of single-celled organisms in mucilage formation on the shores of Büyükada Island (the Marmara Sea). J. Mar. Biol. Assoc. UK 91: 771-781.

Ballesteros E. 2006. Mediterranean coralligenous assemblages: a synthesis of present knowledge. Oceanogr. Mar. Biol. 44: 123-195.

Bavestrello G., Cerrano C., Zanzi D., et al. 1997. Damage by fishing activities to the Gorgonian coral Paramuricea clavata in the Ligurian Sea. Aquat. Conserv. 7: 253-262.<253::AID-AQC243>3.0.CO;2-1

Bayer F.M. 1981. Key to the genera of Octocorallia exclusive of Pennatulacea (Coelenterata: Anthozoa), with diagnoses of new taxa. Proc. BioI. Soc. Wash. 94: 902-947.

Besiktepe ?.T., Sur H.?., Özsoy E., et al. 1994. The circulation and hydrography of the Marmara Sea. Prog. Oceanogr. 34: 285-334.

Bo M., Canese S., Spaggiari C., et al. 2012. Deep Coral Oases in the South Tyrrhenian Sea. PloS One 7: e49870. PMid:23185468 PMCid:PMC3503811

Bo M., Bava S., Canese S., et al. 2014. Fishing impact on deep Mediterranean rocky habitats as revealed by ROV investigation. Biol. Conserv. 171: 167-176.

Burak S. 2008. Evaluation of pollution abatement policies in the Marmara Sea with water quality monitoring. Asian J. Chem. 20(5): 4117.

Carpine C., Grasshoff M. 1975. Les Gorgonaires de la Méditerranée. Bull. Inst. Océanogr. Monaco 71: 1-140.

Clarke K., Gorley R. 2006. PRIMER v6: User Manual/Tutorial. PRIMER-E, Plymouth, 91pp.

Coll M., Piroddi C., Steenbeek J., et al. 2010. The Biodiversity of the Mediterranean Sea: Estimates, Patterns, and Threats. PLoS One 5: e11842. PMid:20689844 PMCid:PMC2914016

Colombo A. 1885. Racolte Zoologiche eseguite del R. Piroscofa Washington nelle campagna-abissale talassografica dell'anno 1885. Riv Marit, 1-34.

Çınar M.E., Kata?an T., O¨ztu¨rk B., et al. 2012. Spatio-temporal distributions of zoobenthos in Mersin Bay (Levantine Sea, eastern Mediterranean) and the importance of alien species in benthic communities. Mar. Biol. Res. 8: 954-968.

Çınar M.E., Yöke. M.B., Açık ?., et al. 2014. Check-list of Cnidaria and Ctenophora from the coasts of Turkey. Turk. J. Zool. 38: 677-697

Çoban-Yıldız Y., Tu?rul S., Ediger D., et al. 2000. A comparative study on the abundance and elemental composition of POM in three interconnected basins: the Black, the Marmara and the Mediterranean Seas. Mediterr. Mar. Sci. 1: 51-63.

Demir M. 1954. Bo?az ve Adalar Sahillerinin omurgasız dip hayvanları. Istanbul Univ, Faculty of Science, Hydrobiol. Res. Inst. Publ. 2A: 1-654 (in Turkish).

Freiwald A., Beuck L., Ru.ggeberg A., et al. 2009. The white coral community in the central Mediterranean Sea revealed by ROV surveys. Oceanography 22: 58-74.

Garrabou J., Coma R., Bensoussan N., et al. 2009. Mass mortality in Northwestern Mediterranean rocky benthic communities: effects of the 2003 heat wave. Glob. Change Biol. 15: 1090-1103.

Geldiay R., Kocata. A. 1972. Note préliminaire sur les peuplements benthiques du golfe d'Izmir. Sci. Monog. Fac. Sci. Ege Univ. 12: 3-33.

Gerovasileiou V., Sini M.I., Poursanidis D., et al. 2009. Contribution to the knowledge of Coralligenous communities in the NE Aegean Sea. Proceedings of the 1st Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of the coralligenous and other calcareous bio-concretions. Tabarka, Tunis, pp 205-207.

Gili J., Pagès F. 1987. Pennatuláceas (Cnidaria, Anthozoa) recolectados en la plataforma continental catalana (Mediterráneo occidental). Misc. Zool. 11: 25-39 (in Spanish).

Giuliani S., Virno Lamberti C., Sonni C., et al. 2005. Mucilage impact on gorgonians in the Tyrrhenian Sea. Sci. Total Environ. 353: 340-349. PMid:16289295

Gözcelioglu B. 2011. Denizlerimizin sakinleri. Gökçe Ofset Basım Yayın, Ankara (in Turkish).

Grasshoff M. 1992. Die Flachwasser-Gorgonarien von Europa und Westafrika (Cnidaria, Anthozoa). Courier Forsch. Int., Senckenberg, 149: 1-135.

Iinibilir M., Svetlichny L., Hubareva E., et al. 2011. Adaptability and vulnerability of zooplankton species in the adjacent regions of the Black and Marmara Seas. J. Mar. Syst. 84: 18-27.

Jones C.J., Lawton J.H., Shachak M. 1994. Organisms as ecosystem engineers. Oikos 69: 373-386.

Kružić P. 2007. Anthozoan fauna of Telascica Nature Park (Adriatic Sea, Croatia). Nat. Croat. 16: 233-266.

Linares C., Coma R., Garrabou J., et al. 2008. Size distribution, density and disturbance in two Mediterranean gorgonians: Paramuricea clavata and Eunicella singularis. J. Appl. Ecol. 45(2): 688-699.

López Ornat A. (ed.) 2006. Guidelines for the Establishment and Management of Mediterranean Marine and Coastal Protected Areas. MedMPA Project Ed: UNEP-MAP RACSPA. Tunis.

Mastrototaro F., D'Onghia G., Corriero G., et al. 2010. Biodiversity of the white coral bank off Cape Santa Maria di Leuca (Mediterranean Sea): An update. Deep Sea Res. PT II 57: 412-430.

Mutlu E., Ergev M.B. 2008. Spatio-temporal distribution of soft-bottom epibenthic fauna on the Cilician shelf (Turkey), Mediterranean Sea. Rev. Biol. Trop. 56: 1919-1946. PMid:19419092

Oku. E., Sur H.I., Yu.ksek A., et al. 2004. Datça-Bozburun Özel Çevre Koruma Bölgesinin denizel ve kıyısal alanlarının biyolojik çe?itlili?inin tespiti. Project Final Report: 698 pp (in Turkish).

Ostroumoff A., 1894. Proceeding materials for the Bosporus natural history. Notes of the Imperial Academy of Sciences, St. Petersburg 74: 1-46.

Ostroumoff A., 1896. Comptes rendus des dragages et du plancton de l'expédition de "Selianik". Bulletin de l'Académie impériale des sciences de St.-Pétersbourg 5: 33-92

Özalp B.H. 2012. Manta-tow studies of the coral fauna of the Çanakkale Strait. Proceedings of the Fisheries and Aquatic Sciences Symposium. Eski?ehir, Turkey, psst 197.

Ozturk B. 2010a. Marmara Denizi 2010 Sempozyumu bildiriler kitabı. TUDAV Publ 32, 521 pp (in Turkish).

Ozturk B. 2010b. Red coral and its actual situation in Turkey. In: Bussoletti E., Cottingham D., Bruckner A., et al. (eds), Proceedings of the International Workshop on Red Coral Science, Management, and Trade: Lesson from the Mediterranean. Naples, Italy, pp. 119.

Ozturk B., Bourguet J.P. 1990. Données préliminaires sur le corail noir de la Mer de Marmara (Turquie) Gerardia savaglia (Bertolini, 1819). Ist. Univ. J. of Fish. 4: 45-48.

Ozturk B., Ozturk A.A. 1996. On the biology of the Turkish straits system. Bull. Inst. Océanogr. Spec. No 17: 205-221.

Ozturk B., Kadıo?lu M., O¨ztu¨rk H. 2000. Marmara Denizi 2000 Sempozyumu bildiriler kitabı. TUDAV Publ 5, 607 pp (in Turkish).

Ozturk B., Aktan Y., Topalo?lu B., et al. 2004. Marine life of Turkey in the Aegean and Mediterranean Seas. TÜDAV Publ. No 10, Istanbul, Turkey, 200 pp.

Pérès J.M. 1982. Major benthic assemblages. In: O. Kinne (Ed.) Marine Ecology. J. Wiley & Sons London 5: 373-522.

Perez T., Garrabou J., Sartoretto S., et al. 2000. Mortalité massive d'invertébrés marins: un événement sans précédent en Méditerranée nord-occidentale. Cr. Acad. Sci. III-Vie 323: 853-865.

Ponti M., Perlini R.A., Ventra V., et al. 2014. Ecological Shifts in Mediterranean Coralligenous Assemblages Related to Gorgonian Forest Loss. PLoS ONE 9(7): e102782 PMid:25054286 PMCid:PMC4108394

Salomidi M., Smith C., Katsanevakis S., et al. 2009. Some observations on the structure and distribution of gorgonian assemblages in the eastern Mediterranean Sea. In: UNEP – MAP – RAC/SPA, Proceedings of the 1st Mediterranean symposium on the conservation of the coralligenous and other calcareous bio-concretions. Tabarka, Tunis, pp 242-245.

Topaloglu B., Ozturk B., Karakulak S.F. 2004. The macrozoobenthic invertebrate fauna in the Marmara Sea. Rapp. Comm. Int. Mer. Médit. 37: 554.

Topçu E.N., Ozturk B. 2013. Octocoral diversity of Balıkçı Island, the Marmara Sea. J. Black Sea/Medit. Environ. 19: 46-57.

Turul S., Polat Ç. 1995. Quantitative comparison of the influxes of nutrients and organic carbon into the Sea of Marmara both from anthropogenic sources and from the Black Sea. Water Sci. Technol. 32: 115-121.

Tu.rkoglu M. 2013. Red tides of the dinoflagellate Noctiluca scintillans associated with eutrophication in the Sea of Marmara (the Dardanelles, Turkey) Oceanologia 55:709-732.

Uysal A., Yuksek A., Oku. E., et al. 2002. Benthic community structure of the Bosphorus and surrounding area. Water Sci. Technol. 46: 37-44. PMid:12420963

Vafidis D., Koukouras A., Voultsiadou-Koukoura E. 1994. Octocoral fauna of the Aegean Sea with a check list of the Mediterranean species: new information, faunal comparisons. Ann. Institut Oceanogr. 70(2): 217-229.

Watling L., Auster P.J. 2005. Distribution of deep-water Alcyonacea off the Northeast Coast of the United States. Cold-Water Corals and Ecosystems Erlangen Earth Conference Series pp. 279-296.

Weinbauer M.G., Velimirov B. 1996. Population Dynamics and Overgrowth of the Sea Fan Eunicella cavolini (Coelenterata: Octocorallia). Est. Coast. Shelf Sci. 42(5): 583-595.

Weinberg S. 1976. Revision of the common Octocorallia of the Mediterranean circalittoral. I. Gorgonacea. Beaufortia 313: 63-104.

Weinberg S. 1977. Revision of the common Octocorallia of the Mediterranean circalittoral. II. Alcyonacea. Beaufortia 25: 131-166.

Williams G.C. 1995. Living genera of sea pens (Coelenterata: Octocorallia: Pennatulacea) – illustrated key and synopses. Zool. J. Linn. Soc. 113: 93-140.

Yıldız T., Karakulak S. 2010. ?stanbul Adalarında Hayalet Avcılık. In O¨ztu¨rk B (ed.), Marmara Denizi 2010 Sempozyumu bildiriler kitabı. TUDAV Publ 32: 282-288.

Yurtsever A. 2002. Kuzey Ege Denizi'nde bulunan bazı yumu?ak mercan (gorgon) tu.rlerinin popu.lasyon yapısı u.zerine ara?tırmalar. M.Sc thesis, Istanbul Univ Grad Sch of Nat and Appl Sci, ?stanbul, 23 pp. (in Turkish).

Zaitsev Yu P., Mamaev V. 1997. Biological diversity in the Black Sea. Black Sea Environ Ser,Vol. 3, UN Publ, New York 208 pp.

Zervoudaki S., Christou E.D., Assimakopoulou G., et al. 2011. Copepod communities, production and grazing in the Turkish Straits System and the adjacent northern Aegean Sea during spring. J. Mar. Syst 86: 45-56.



How to Cite

Topçu EN, Öztürk B. Composition and abundance of octocorals in the Sea of Marmara, where the Mediterranean meets the Black Sea. scimar [Internet]. 2015Mar.30 [cited 2021Sep.19];79(1):125-3. Available from: