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Scientists Discover A Massive Coral Reef That Is Taller Than Empire State Building

Scientists Discover A Massive Coral Reef That Is Taller Than Empire State Building

This amazing find was part of a year-long expedition to map the ocean floor surrounding Australia.

Coral reefs are truly things of sheer beauty. They are an elaborate underwater ecosystem that is characterized by the namesake reef-building corals. These reefs are colonies of coral polyps that are held together by calcium carbonate. The first detached coral reef has been discovered in over 120 years and was announced recently by the Schmidt Ocean Institute in Australia. Scientists aboard the Falor found that the entire structure is about 1,600 feet tall, making it even higher than the Empire State Building, which stands at 1,454 feet. This amazing find was part of a year-long expedition to map the ocean floor surrounding Australia.



 

The research team went on a dive five days after they first found the reef's location, and had more information about its size and shape. They made use of an underwater exploration robot, which they called SuBastian, to retrieve high-resolution imagery and footage from down below. Executive Director of Schmidt Ocean Institute shared the significance of such an unexpected discovery. “To find a new half-a-kilometer tall reef in the offshore Cape York area of the well-recognized Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world is just beyond our coastline,” explains Dr. Virmani. “This powerful combination of mapping data and underwater imagery will be used to understand this new reef and its role within the incredible Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area."



 

One of the most important aspects of this find is that it helps us understand the Great Barrier Reef's struggle to survive over the years. Ever since 2016, half of the 1,500-mile ocean landscape has been reportedly bleached. Scientists acknowledge that this is the result of climate change as the warmer water kills off vital algae and even starves the coral. This depletes the ecosystem and the marine life in the area leave to find other resources. That being said, there are still new discoveries and research made of the ocean floor that has been critical to preserving this life. 



 

Thanks to Schmidt Ocean Insistute's Australia campaign, we now have valuable maps of the ocean floor. This contributed to the Nippon Foundation's 2030 project to map 10% of the ocean floor and AusSeaBed.Scientists are now actively exploring the Great Barrier Reef area to share their incredible findings with the world. “We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” said Dr. Robin Beaman from James Cook University. “To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible. This has only been made possible by the commitment of Schmidt Ocean Institute to grant ship time to Australia’s scientists.”



 

“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears, and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”



 

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