Scottish Government scientists, collaborating with a Spanish university, have uncovered a new family and species of deepwater soft coral, from seas to the west of Scotland.

Scientists say the discovery demonstrates there is still much to learn about the deep sea and highlights the importance of marine protected areas as a key tool in conservation efforts.
Specimens were recovered from the continental slopes and plains of the Rockall Trough at depths of up to 2000 meters over a period of almost a decade up to 2019.
Coral from the deep sea are known to be both poorly understood and rarely encountered, leading the team of scientists to preserve samples for analysis.
These were studied in collaboration with the internationally renowned coral expert Dr Pablo Lopez-Gonzalez from the University of Seville, using a combination of traditional methods and cutting-edge genetic analysis.
Due to their appearance, the specimens were initially thought to be  part of  a family known as Umbellula.  However, genetic results, backed by microscopic study of minute skeletal structures, revealed them to be not only a new species but belonging to a family of the species completely new to science.
The discovery may lead academics to revise older ideas of deep sea animal diversity.
The new species has been formally named Pseudumbellula scotiae - the first part due to its overall physical similarity to Umbellula and the second part in honour of the huge contributions to science and conservation in our deep waters made by the Scottish Government’s Marine Research Vessel Scotia.