Australian scientists discover 500m high coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef – ScienceDaily


Scientists have discovered a huge detached coral reef in the Great Barrier Reef, the first discovery in over 120 years, the Schmidt Ocean Institute announced. Standing more than 500 meters tall, taller than the Empire State Building, Sydney Tower and Petronas Twin Towers, the reef was discovered by Australian scientists aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel Falkor, currently engaged in a 12 month ocean exploration. surrounding Australia.

The reef was first discovered on October 20, when a team of scientists led by Dr. Robin Beaman of James Cook University was conducting an underwater mapping of the northern sea floor of the Great Barrier Reef. The team then conducted a dive on October 25 using Schmidt Ocean Institute’s SuBastian underwater robot to explore the new reef. The dive was streamed live, with the high-resolution footage displayed for the first time and streamed on the Schmidt Ocean Institute website and YouTube channel. [Editor’s note: see link below.]

The base of the blade reef is 1.5km wide, so it rises 500m to its minimum depth of just 40m below the sea surface. This newly discovered detached reef joins the seven other detached reefs in the area, which have been mapped since the late 1800s, including the Raine Island Reef, the most important green sea turtle nesting area in the world.

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

“We are surprised and elated at what we have found,” said Dr. Beaman. “Not only 3D mapping the reef in detail, but also seeing this discovery visually with SuBastian is incredible. This was only made possible by the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s commitment to granting ship time to Australian scientists.”

The discovery of this new coral reef adds to a year of underwater discoveries by the Schmidt Ocean Institute. In April, scientists discovered the longest recorded marine creature: a 45-meter siphonophore in Ningaloo Canyon, plus up to 30 new species. In August, scientists discovered five undescribed species of black coral and sponges and recorded Australia’s first observation of rare scorpionfish in the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef marine parks. And the year began with the discovery in February of deep-sea coral gardens and cemeteries in Bremer Canyon Marine Park.

“Finding a new half-kilometer-high coral reef in the off Cape York area of ​​the renowned Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world just beyond our coast is,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, executive director of the Schmidt Ocean Institute. “This powerful combination of cartographic data and underwater imagery will be used to understand this new reef and its role within the incredible Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.”

The northern depths of the Great Barrier Reef voyage will continue until November 17 as part of the larger annual Schmidt Ocean Institute campaign in Australia. The maps created will be available through AusSeabed, a national Australian seabed mapping program, and will also contribute to the Nippon Foundation’s GEBCO Seabed 2030 project.

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Materials provided by Schmidt Ocean Institute. Note: The content can be changed by style and length.


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