| USE TODAY
Scientists have discovered a detached “massive” coral reef in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, the first of its kind in over 120 years. And at around 1,640 feet, it’s taller than the Empire State Building.
The reef was found on Oct. 20 by a team that conducted a year-long underwater mapping of the region’s seafloor, the Schmidt Ocean Institute said in a press release Monday.
The Institute’s underwater robot, “SuBastian”, has explored the coral reef. The dive was live streamed on his website.
“We are surprised and euphoric at what we have found,” said group leader Dr. Robin Beaman of James Cook University. “Not only 3D mapping the coral reef in detail, but also seeing this discovery visually with SuBastian is incredible.”
The new reef is llama-like. With a base nearly 1 mile wide, it rises to 1,640 feet and its peak is approximately 130 feet below the ocean’s surface. It is taller than the Empire State Building (1,450 feet), the Petronas Twin Towers (1,480 feet), and the Eiffel Tower (1,060 feet).
The discovery also adds to seven other detached coral reefs in the area, including the Raine Island Reef, the largest nesting area in the world for green sea turtles.
Beaman’s team will continue their expedition in the ocean surrounding Australia until November 17th. The maps will be available on an Australian national seabed mapping program called AusSeabed.
“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. New ocean landscapes are opening up to us, revealing the ecosystems and different life forms that share the planet with us. “