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Scientists have discovered a giant deep-sea coral reef - video

When the research vessel R/V Atlantis set out to sea last week from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, expedition leader Erik Cordes predicted that the team would discover something no one had ever seen before. It didn’t take long before his words were confirmed. About 160 nautical miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, 800 metres
Published: September 5, 2018 - 17:37
Updated: July 22, 2023 - 17:12
Scientists have discovered a giant deep-sea coral reef – video

When the research vessel R/V Atlantis set out to sea last week from Woods Hole, Massachusetts, expedition leader Erik Cordes predicted that the team would discover something no one had ever seen before. It didn’t take long before his words were confirmed.

About 160 nautical miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina, 800 metres below the ocean’s surface, researchers have discovered a magnificent coral reef flourishing in the cold waters. Based on observations and recent sonar bottom mapping, scientists estimate that the reef extends at least 135 kilometres.

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[blockquote style=”2″]”It’s incredible that such an amazing reef has gone undiscovered for so long, located just off the east coast of the US.”[/blockquote]

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The existence of the reef was confirmed during submersibles carried out during the two-week expedition. The aim of the expedition was to explore previously unrecognised canyons, isthmuses and ecosystems located off the Atlantic coast. The discovery builds on previous research carried out in the summer of 2018, by scientists working aboard the “Okeanos Explorer” vessel of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration – NOAA.

As Erik Cordes prepared to board the famous deep-sea vehicle “Alvin” he said he was excited and it was unclear what would be found on the bottom, but he hoped it would be coral colonies. Seven hours later, the crew returned to the surface with samples of various kinds of coral taken during the dive.

Cordes, who is a deep-sea ecologist by training and works as a professor at Temple University, called the discovery “incredible” and the discovered ecosystem something no one had ever seen before.

[blockquote style=”2″]”There are whole mountains of coral!” – said Cordes as the crew worked to secure Alvin’s vehicle aboard the ship. “We couldn’t find a place that didn’t have coral!”[/blockquote]

This summer, scientists aboard the vessel “Okeanos” mapped hundreds of deep-sea mounds and found a coral reef about 16 nautical miles to the southeast. Cordes and his team confirmed that the mounds mapped by “Okeanos” are indeed full of coral reefs. Scientists say that these Atlantic coral structures could be hundreds of thousands of years old!

The goal of the expedition, funded by NOAA, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management and the U.S. Geological Survey, is to identify and ultimately protect sensitive habitats in territory that remains largely unexplored. During the expedition, the team of scientists worked late into the night, conducting experiments and preserving samples of corals and other species for future testing.

Source: huffingtonpost.com
Photo: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution

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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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