Using the non-invasive aquatic eddy covariance technique, we provide the first oxygen (O2) uptake rates from within coral gardens at the Condor seamount (Azores). To explore some of the key drivers of the benthic O2 demand, we obtained benthic images, quantified local hydrodynamics, and estimated phototrophic biomass and deposition dynamics with a long-term moored sediment trap. The coral gardens were dominated by the octocorals Viminella flagellum and Dentomuricea aff. meteor. Daily rates of O2 uptake within 3 targeted coral garden sites (203 to 206 m depth) ranged from 10.0 ± 0.88 to 18.8 ± 2.0 mmol m−2 d−1 (mean ± SE) and were up to 10 times higher than 2 local sandy reference sites within the seamount summit area. The overall mean O2 uptake rate for the garden (13.4 mmol m−2 d−1) was twice the global mean for sedimentary habitats at comparable depths. Combined with parallel ex situ incubations, the results suggest that the octocorals might contribute just ~5% of the observed O2 uptake rates. Deposition of particulate organic matter (POM) assessed by the sediment trap accounted for less than 10% of the O2 demand of the coral garden, implying a substantial POM supply circumventing the deployed traps. Our results expand the database for carbon turnover rates in cold-water coral habitats by including the first estimates from these largely understudied coral gardens.
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