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A coral reef bigger than the Empire State Building has been discovered! - video

Australian scientists have just announced their latest and most spectacular discovery. It is the location of a previously unknown reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef, for the first time in 120 years. From the information available, we know that the newly discovered reef is so huge that with its height reaching 500 metres, it
Published: October 27, 2020 - 09:00
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 21:25
A coral reef bigger than the Empire State Building has been discovered! – video

Australian scientists have just announced their latest and most spectacular discovery. It is the location of a previously unknown reef, part of the Great Barrier Reef, for the first time in 120 years.

From the information available, we know that the newly discovered reef is so huge that with its height reaching 500 metres, it even surpasses the legendary New York skyscraper Empire State Bulding!

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New reef Australia Schmidt Ocean Institute
3D image of the discovered coral reef photo: Schmidt Ocean Institute

This stunning discovery was made by researchers just one week ago, on 20 October 2020. The international scientific team, led by marine geologist Dr Robin Beaman of James Cook University in Townsville, located it in the northern Cape York area.

We are surprised and excited by what we have found. It is amazing to be able to see not only a detailed 3D representation of the reef, but also video footage captured with the SuBastian robot,” commented Dr Beaman

Video footage captured on 25 October by the remotely operated robot SuBastian can be seen below. All survey work was conducted from aboard the Schmidt Ocean Institute’s Falkor vessel, which is currently in the final month of a year-long expedition to map the seabed around Australia.

The base of the blade-like reef is 1.5km wide and rises 500m to a depth of just 40m below the sea surface. This newly discovered freestanding reef joins seven other high, freestanding reefs in the area that have been known since the late 19th century, including the reef on Raine Island, the world’s most important green turtle nesting area.

Overview of the reef and the Empire State Bulding Schmidt Ocean Institute
Juxtaposition of reef and Empire State Bulding photo by Schmidt Ocean Institute

This unexpected discovery confirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean. With new technologies working like eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have opportunities to make more discoveries like never before. New ocean landscapes are opening up to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of SOI

New species discovered on coral reef
One of the species discovered during the expedition photo: Reef juxtaposition and Empire State Bulding Schmidt Ocean Institute

The Schmidt Ocean Institute, based in California, is a private non-profit foundation established to advance oceanographic research. This year’s expedition succeeded in discovering deep-sea coral gardens, the longest recorded sea creature – a 45-metre siphonophore – and up to 30 new species inhabiting the waters off Western Australia. In turn, five undescribed species of black corals and sponges were discovered in the east of the continent and a rare species of scorpene fish inhabiting Australian waters was observed for the first time.

SuBastien coral reef vehicle Australia
SuBastien submersible vehicle photo: Reef and Empire State Bulding Schmidt Ocean Institute juxtaposition

The expedition, conducted aboard Falkor, is expected to run until 17 November and extensive seabed mapping created from the documentation collected will be made available through the Ausbed programme.

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About author

Tomasz Andrukajtis
Editor-in-chief of the DIVERS24 portal and magazine. Responsible for obtaining, translating and developing content. He also supervises all publications. Achived his first diving certification – P1 CMAS, in 2000. Has a degree in journalism and social communication. In the diving industry since 2008.
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