A submarine research ship has encountered a giant a coral reef, standing like a monolithic tower off the coast of Northern Australia.
According to scientists from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, who are conducting a year-long ocean expedition around Australia, this newly discovered reef is more than 500 meters high from the base to the top, making it taller than the Empire State Building.
The newly discovered reef is part of Great barrier reef – the only longest coral reef in the world, stretching more than 1,400 miles (2,300 km) along the northeast coast of Australia. This new branch of the massive underwater structure stands free from the rest of the reef, making it the first separate coral reef discovered in the area in 1
“To find a new half-kilometer-high reef in … the well-known Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world beyond our coast is,” said Joyotica Virmani, executive director of the Schmid Ocean Institute. said in a statement.
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Scientists aboard the research ship Falkor discovered the new reef on October 20 while building a 3D map of the ocean floor. The solitary coral tower, which the team described as “blade-like,” is 1.5 miles wide at its base before rising to its summit, about 40 meters below sea level. Seven other detached towers like the one before were discovered along the reef, the researchers said.
Using a remote-controlled vehicle (ROV), the team explored the surface of the new reef, revealing an arc menagerie of coral and underwater fauna. (If you want to see some highlights, see footage from the 3-hour institute live on YouTube).
Such biodiversity is characteristic of the Great Barrier Reef, which supports over 1,500 species of fish and hundreds of different species of coral. However, many of these species are at risk of losing their homes climate change, which has contributed to the loss of half of the corals of the Great Barrier Reef since 1995, a study published on October 14 in the journal Notices of the Royal Society B found
The Schmid Institute will continue to study the northern reef until November 17. In addition to finding this massive tower, the institute’s researchers also discovered “one of the longest animals ever“in April (actually 150 feet long – 45 meters – a chain of smaller creatures called zooids), a squid have never been photographed alive before and mysterious coral cemetery in March.
Originally published in Live Science.