New Coral Reef Discovered As Part of The Great Barrier Reef

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Annikka Tuttle, Contributor

The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, located off the coast of Queensland, Australia in the Coral Sea. It spans 133,000 square miles of ocean and is home to hundreds of species of coral, fish, and other sea creatures. The reef has lost nearly fifty percent of its coral in the last thirty years due to the ever-increasing threat of climate change.

But not all is lost. On October 20, 2020, scientists aboard the Falknor research vessel discovered a new reef measuring 500 meters tall- making it taller than the Empire State Building, which measures in at 381 meters. This is the first new reef to be discovered in the Great Barrier in more than 120 years.

The new reef was discovered using an underwater mapping of the sea floor. Scientists on a year long expedition from the Schmidt Ocean Institute used an underwater robot dubbed “SuBastien” to explore the reef and live-stream footage of the exploration. The reef has a blade-like shape and is nearly a mile wide. In the area, there are 7 other detached reefs, most notably the reef of Raine Island- the world’s most vital green sea turtle nesting area.

Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute said, “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.”