It is the first find of its kind in 120 years. It’s a huge coral reef. It was discovered at the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef in Australia. At 500 meters high, the coral reef is taller than a building like the Empire State of New York.
Secrets under the sea
Scientists found the structure last week. The huge reef is separated from the Great Barrier Reef off the Cape York Peninsula. The team was on board a laboratory ship belonging to the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI) group. They used an underwater robot to explore the reef. The device known as SuBastian broadcast live video images of the discovery.
“Finding a new reef half a kilometer high shows how mysterious the world is beyond our coast.” That’s what Dr. Jyotika Virmani, CEO of SOI. The Great Barrier Reef is the largest coral reef in the world. It is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 species of coral, and dozens of other species. It has a length of more than 2,300 kilometers. The coral reef was declared a World Heritage Site in 1981.
In recent years it has suffered from the warming of the seas, which killed the corals and scattered other marine creatures. More than 50% of the corals have been lost to water warming and climate change since 1995.
The coral reef, which is taller than a building, is the first of its kind to be discovered in the region since the late 19th century. There are other high reefs in the area including one on Raine Island. It is the most important nesting site for green turtles in the world.
The new reef is not part of the main Great Barrier Reef structure. Its shape has been described as “blade-like”, with a 1.5 kilometer wide base rising 500 meters to its thinnest point. This is only 40 meters below the sea surface.
“We continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” said SOI co-founder Wendy Schmidt. “With new technologies we can explore like never before,” he said. Researchers will continue mapping the Great Barrier Reef through November 17th.
The spaceship Schmidt Ocean Institute is conducting a year-long exploration of the Australian oceans. The institute said it had discovered up to 30 new species. Including “the longest marine animal ever recorded”: a 45-meter synophore. Synophores related to jellyfish are organisms that live in the deep. Many are bioluminescent and can glow green or blue to attract prey.
Other discoveries include undescribed species of corals and black sponges, as well as “Australia’s first sighting of the rare scorpion fish,” according to the institute.