By Gift Briton
A scientific research mission supported by United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), has discovered one of the world’s largest coral reefs off the coasts of Tahiti.
The rose-shaped coral reef which sits on 65 m depth is approximately 3km long and 60m wide. This is a highly unique discovery because major world’s known coral reefs sit o 25m depth, Alexis Rosenfeld, French photographer and founder of the One Ocean campaign who led the diving mission said.
“This discovery implies that there could be much bigger coral reefs out here which we do not know about,” he stated.
“To date, we know the surface of the moon better than the deep ocean. Only 20% of the entire seabed has been mapped. This remarkable discovery in Tahiti demonstrates the incredible work of scientists who, with the support of UNESCO, further the extent of our knowledge about what lies beneath,” said Audrey Azoulay, Director General of UNESCO.
This unique discovery was part of UNESCOS’s approach to mapping the oceans. The discovery has provided an important insight into biodiversity since coral reefs are useful source of food for many organisms and so locating them will really enhance research around biodiversity.
Additionally, organisms living on the reefs can be used for medical research and the reefs are also important in preventing coastal erosion and even tsunamis.
Coral reefs are vulnerable to pollution, rising temperatures and change in chemistry caused by carbon dioxide emissions dissolving in water. According the reports by UNESCO, there is no evidence that this reef had been damaged by those pressures and its unique depth could be the reason it remained in that good state.
“This reef does not appear to have been significantly affected. The discovery of this reef in such a pristine condition is good news and can inspire future conservation. We think that deeper reefs may be better protected from global warming,” said Dr. Laetitia Hedouin from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS) and the environmental research body CRIOBE who was present on the mission.
Until today, scientists have not located, investigated and studied any coral reefs at depths more than 30m. However, advancement in technology means that scientists can now dive deeper. It took a total of 200 hours for the whole diving team to study the reef and they were able to witness the coral spawning.
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