A team of scientists mapping reefs that are threatened by climate change have discovered Acropora corals living more than 400 feet below the Great Barrier Reef. According to a report on SkyNews, the University of Queensland’s Catlin Seaview Survey team, led by Dr. Pim Bongaert, made the discovery on the outer Ribbon Reefs, which is near the Torres Strait on the edge of the Australian continental shelf. Bongaert said that the discovery of coral where sunlight is scant is “mind blowing.”
“It’s intriguing. When we began our survey, we were amazed to see significant coral communities at depths of around 60 meters,” Bongaert said in a statement. “It is truly mind-blowing to see reef coral at more than twice that depth and four times deeper than most scuba divers can reach. There are coral communities on the Great Barrier Reef existing at considerably greater depths than we could ever have imagined.
In addition to those corals found at more than 400 feet, the team also discovered a community of staghorn corals living at 239 feet, the deepest that they have seen this species. Dr. Bongaert’s team will perform an analysis on coral samples in an effort to determine how these corals could survive at the depths that they were found.
The Catlin Seaview Survey has taken on the task of capturing the reefs of the world, starting with the Great Barrier Reef, in high resolution, 360 degree panoramic vision using a custom-built underwater camera. It is expected that 50,000 panoramas will be uploaded to Google’s Panoramio photo site, where people will be able to access the images via Google Maps and Google Earth in a similar fashion as Google’s Street View,” except the view will be of the coral reefs of the world’s oceans.
For more information on the Catlin Seaview Survey and to see stunning coral reef imagery, visit Caitlin Seaview Survey.