While mapping the Great Barrier Reef, a team of Australian scientists and their deep-sea robot discovered coral in astonishingly deep waters.
At Ribbon Reef at the edge of the Australian continental shelf, the team from the University of Queensland’s Seaview Survey discovered coral 125 meters (410 feet) below the surface.
The Catlin Seaview Survey is the first comprehensive study documenting the health of the reefs in the Coral Sea and the Great Barrier Reef.
Ove Hoegh-Guldberg, chief scientist on the project, explained that before this discovery, coral had only been found as deep as 70 meters. Finding corals even deeper, where almost no light reaches the reef, raises some interesting questions about coral reproduction and growth, among other things.
“What’s really cool is that these corals still have photosynthetic symbionts that supposedly still harvest the light,” said Hoegh-Guldberg. “It’s interesting to know how they can handle such low light conditions – it’s very deep dusk, you can barely make out much at the bottom.”
In addition to reproduction, the team is looking at the impact of ocean acidification and warming on deeper reefs.
The deep sea survey is “just showing that we do have rich communities that can reach into the deep water,” said Hoegh-Guldberg. “We are yet to discover many corners of the Earth.”
To learn more:
- Check out this article from The Telegraph: Australian scientists discover deep sea corals
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