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Scientists ‘Elated’ After Finding Massive Coral Reef—The First Reef to Be Discovered in 120 Years

Scientists have discovered a huge separate coral reef that is taller than the Empire State Building and is the first reef to be discovered in more than 120 years.

Scale representation of the newly discovered detached reef – Photo by Schmidt Ocean Institute

The Schmidt Ocean Institute made its pioneering discovery earlier this week when they found the natural structure on the Great Barrier Reef.

At over 500 meters (1,600 feet) high, which is also taller than the Sydney Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers, the reef was discovered by Australian scientists aboard the institute’s research ship Falkor, currently in a 12-month ocean exploration. surrounding Australia.

The reef was first found on October 20 when a team of scientists led by Dr. Robin Beaman was conducting an underwater mapping of the seafloor north of the Great Barrier Reef. Several days later, the team took a dive using the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s SuBastian underwater robot to explore the new reef.

The dive was broadcast live, and the high-resolution images were first seen and broadcast at the Schmidt Ocean Institute. website and YouTube channel.

The base of the blade-shaped reef is 1.5 kilometers (1 mile) wide before rising to its lowest depth of just 40 meters (130 feet) below the sea surface.

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This recently discovered separate reef joins the other seven tall separate reefs in the area, mapped since the late 1800s, including the reef at Raine Island, the world’s most important green sea turtle nesting area.

“This unexpected discovery affirms 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 about what is in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that function like our eyes, ears and hands in the depths of the ocean, we have the ability to explore like never before. New ocean landscapes are opening up to us, revealing the ecosystems and the diverse forms of life that share the planet with us ”.

“We are surprised and excited by what we have found,” Dr. Beaman said. “Not only 3D mapping the reef in detail, but also visually seeing this discovery with SuBastian is incredible. This has only been possible thanks to the commitment of the Schmidt Ocean Institute to grant shipping time to scientists in Australia ”.

Photo by Schmidt Ocean Institute

The discovery of this new coral reef joins a year of underwater discoveries by the Schmidt Ocean Institute. In April, Scientists discovered the longest sea creature on record: a 45 meter long siphonophore in Ningaloo Canyon, plus an additional 30 new species.

In August, scientists discovered five undescribed species of black coral and sponges and recorded Australia’s first sighting of rare scorpion fish in the marine parks of the Coral Sea and Great Barrier Reef. And the year started with him discovery in February of deep-sea coral gardens and cemeteries at Bremer Canyon Marine Park.

“Finding a new half-kilometer-high reef off the Cape York shoreline area of ​​the renowned Great Barrier Reef shows how mysterious the world is beyond our shoreline,” said Dr. Jyotika Virmani, Schmidt’s CEO. 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 of the World Heritage Area.”

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

Reprinted from Schmidt Ocean Institute

(WATCH discovery footage from livestream below …)

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