It had been more than 120 years since a new reef was discovered, until last week. Not only did Aussie scientists on Schmidt Ocean Institute‘s research vessel find a whole reef we never knew existed, it just happens to be taller than the Empire State Building.
First of all, let’s address the fact that it’s not towering out of the water (don’t even pretend like you didn’t assume it was), it just reaches up to the surface from a very deep part of the ocean.
Second of all, let’s talk about how they think the reef is about 20 million years old. That is very old.
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First found on October 20 and standing at a massive 500 metres tall, this newly discovered “detached” reef (meaning it stands alone on the ocean floor and isn’t part of the GBR main body) joins several others of its kind in the Cape York area.
“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean,” said co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, Wendy Schmidt, in a statement.
“The state of our knowledge about what’s in the Ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”
It’s actually pretty cool to watch, you can check out the full dive video below. There’s commentary too, which is good because otherwise I’d have no idea what I was looking at.
The top of this reef seems to support a more bustling ecosystem than others, research leader Robin Beaman from James Cook University (JCU) told the ABC.
“When we got to the crest of it — it’s only about 300 by 50 metres wide — we found a lot of fish and a healthy shark population too”.
It’s been a year of underwater discoveries from the Schmidt Ocean Institute, after finding a 45-metre creature known as a siphonophore in Ningaloo Canyon, and 30 other previously unknown ocean dwellers in the area earlier in the year.
Personally, the ocean and it’s weird, alien-like creatures equal parts terrify and fascinate me, so I’m not sure how I feel about this.
(Lead Image: Facebook / Schmidt Ocean Institute)
Kassia is the Editor of AWOL, and a straight-up travel addict. She was born without a sense of direction, yet an intense desire to explore the world. As such, she's lost 90% of the time but she's learned to roll with it. You can catch her latest adventures on Instagram @probably_kassia.