Only 20% of the entire seabed has been mapped, which means there is a lot of room for discovery. A UNESCO research mission has just made an amazing discovery. A large, pristine coral reef was discovered in the depths of the ocean in Tahiti.
One of the most extensive healthy coral reefs on record
Stretching 3km in length and 30-70 m wide, this deep water reef is made up of giant rose-shaped corals. Some are as wide as a king-sized bed! Most coral reefs are found in water shallower than 25 m, but this reef is located at depths of between 30 and 65 m.
Mapping the oceans
Technology has not just improved life on land, but also underwater. It’s now possible to dive for longer and deeper which has enabled this kind of coral research in the “twilight zone”.
The importance of coral reefs
Coral reefs provide an important ecosystem for life underwater. Not only do they provide homes and shelter for many organisms, but they are also a source for essential nutrients, they protect our coastal areas by acting as a buffer to waves and they assist in carbon and nitrogen fixing.
The discovery of this reef in the ocean depths could lead to many more discoveries and perhaps even a clue as to how to slow down global warming:
“French Polynesia suffered a significant bleaching event back in 2019, however this reef does not appear to have been significantly affected. The discovery of this reef in such a pristine condition is good news and can inspire future conservation. We think that deeper reefs may be better protected from global warming.” – Dr. Laetitia Hedouin from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) and the environmental research body CRIOBE.