"Deep-sea black corals are a perfect example of ecosystems linked between the surface and the deep ocean. They can potentially record this link in their skeleton for hundreds to thousands of years," Prouty said.
But growing for 2000 years has it's disadvantages.
"Since longevity is a key factor for population maintenance, recovery from a disturbance to these ecosystems, natural or man made, may take decades to centuries," Prouty said.
Coral can be damaged easily by certain oil exploration and fishing practices. It is also a valuable commodity for jewelry makers. It's even Hawaii's state gem.
"The flexibility and shiny luster of black coral have made it a precious commodity in the coral jewelry trade and international trade is regulated by the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora," said Prouty.
"In fact, black corals have been harvested for centuries to create charms; the scientific name of the order to which black corals belong, ‘Antipatharia,' comes from Greek roots meaning ‘against suffering,'" said Prouty.