Australian scientists have discovered a detached new coral reef at the northern tip of the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area that’s taller than the Empire State building. At half a kilometre tall and 1.5 kilometres wide, the reef was first found by scientists conducting an underwater mapping of the ocean floor. They mapped the seabed in 3D using an underwater robot named SuBastian to record and livestream the captured footage.
The scientists found that, at its shallowest point, the reef is only 40 metres below the surface of the water and estimated its deepest point to be 20 million years old. However, it is home to a variety of marine life such as fish, sea fans and sponges. The reef also grows from the ocean floor rather than from the Great Barrier Reef itself, which suggests a new species could be evolving.
Only 8 standalone coral reefs have ever been discovered, but this most recent discovery is the first of its kind in 120 years.
The discovery is a huge boost ocean ecosystems and biodiversity, as it was announed recently that half of the Great Barrier Reef coral had been lost since 1995, and up to 50% of global coral reefs have already been detroyed due to bleaching, changes to water temperatures and human intervention.