Tuesday, October 27th 2020, 4:03 pm - The detached coral reef is 500 metres in height, bigger than the Empire State Building (381 metres), Sydney Tower (305 metres) and Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 metres).
An enormous coral reef taller than a few of the world's highest skyscrapers, including the Empire State Building, was recently uncovered in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.
The detached coral reef is 500 metres in height, bigger than the Empire State Building (381 metres), Sydney Tower (305 metres) and Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 metres). It was the first to be discovered in more than 120 years, according to the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The bottom of the blade-like reef is 1.5 kilometres wide, then rises 500 metres to its shallowest depth of just 40 metres below the sea surface. The newly found detached reef is now among the seven other tall, detached reefs in the area. They have been tracked since the late 1800s, including a reef at Raine Island -- the world’s most vital green sea turtle nesting area.
The reef was located by Australian scientists on a Schmidt Ocean Institute research vessel, currently undergoing a 12-month exploration of the ocean neighbouring Australia.
The bottom of the blade-like reef is 1.5 kilometres wide, then rises 500 metres to its shallowest depth of just 40 metres below the sea surface. Photo: Schmidt Ocean Institute (coral reef) and Aleksandr Rogozin/Unsplash (Empire State Building).
“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, in a news release.
“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.”
The reef was initially discovered on Oct. 20, with a group of scientists conducting underwater mapping of the northern Great Barrier Reef seafloor. The team then took Schmidt Ocean Institute’s underwater robot SuBastian on a dive on Oct. 25 to explore the new reef in depth. The exploratory mission was livestreamed on the organization's website and YouTube channel.
That wasn't the institute's only recent discovery. In August, scientists found 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, Schmidt Ocean Institute said in the media release.
In April, scientists uncovered the longest recorded sea creature -- a 45-metre siphonophore in Ningaloo Canyon, in addition to 30 other new species. In February, deep sea coral gardens and graveyards were located in Bremer Canyon Marine Park.
Research vessel Falkor on the outside of Ribbon Reef No. 5 as ROV SuBastian works its way up the shelf, working to reveal for the first time, evidence into the origins of the Great Barrier Reef. Photo: Schmidt Ocean Institute.
Australia's Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef, is composed of 3,000 individual reef systems, 760 fringe reefs, 600 tropical islands and about 300 coral cays. The complicated array of habitats provides shelter for a wide variety of marine life, plants and animals.
Thumbnail contains images courtesy of Schmidt Ocean Institute (coral reef) and Aleksandr Rogozin/Unsplash (Empire State Building).
Source: Schmidt Ocean Institute