The reef had remained totally undiscovered until now. Image Credit: CC BY-SA 3.0 Toby Hudson
A 600-mile-long coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon river has taken scientists completely by surprise.
Stretching from French Guiana to Brazilís Maranhao state, the remarkable discovery was made entirely by accident during efforts to look for new oil drilling sites in the region.
The find was particularly unexpected because large rivers tend to create gaps in reef systems where coral is unable to grow and there had been no evidence of corals thriving in muddy, sediment-filled waters like those typically found at the mouth of the Amazon.
In a new paper released on Thursday, scientists studying the new reef have identified at least 60 unique species of sponges, 73 species of fish and several types of lobsters and other marine life.
"I was flabbergasted, as were the rest of the 30 oceanographers," said co-author Patricia Yager.
"Traditionally, our understanding of reefs has focused on tropical shallow coral reefs which harbor biodiversity that rivals tropical rainforests."
Source: The Guardian | Comments (11)