Largest coral reef ever mapped present in Atlantic Ocean with revolutionary 3D imaging know-how

Scientists have mapped the most important coral reef deep within the ocean, stretching a whole bunch of miles off the U.S. Atlantic coast.

Whereas researchers have recognized because the Sixties that some coral have been current off the Atlantic, the reef’s dimension remained a thriller till new underwater mapping know-how made it doable to assemble 3D pictures of the ocean flooring.

The biggest but recognized deep coral reef “has been right under our noses, waiting to be discovered,” mentioned Derek Sowers, an oceanographer on the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Belief.

Sowers and different scientists, together with a number of on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, just lately printed maps of the reef in the journal Geomatics.

The reef extends for about 310 miles (499 kilometers) from Florida to South Carolina and at some factors reaches 68 miles (109 kilometers) broad. The whole space is sort of 3 times the scale of Yellowstone Nationwide Park.

“It’s eye-opening — it’s breathtaking in scale,” mentioned Stuart Sandin, a marine biologist on the Scripps Establishment of Oceanography, who was not concerned within the research.

The reef was discovered at depths starting from 655 toes to three,280 toes (200 meters to 1,000 meters), the place daylight doesn’t penetrate. In contrast to tropical coral reefs, the place photosynthesis is essential for development, coral this far down should filter meals particles out of the water for vitality.

Deep coral reefs present habitat for sharks, swordfish, sea stars, octopus, shrimp and plenty of other forms of fish, the scientists mentioned.

Tropical reefs are higher recognized to scientists — and snorkelers — as a result of they’re extra accessible. The world’s largest tropical coral reef system, the Nice Barrier Reef in Australia, stretches for about 1,430 miles (2,301 kilometers).

Sowers mentioned it’s doable that bigger deep-sea reefs might be found sooner or later since solely about 25% of the world’s ocean flooring has been mapped in high-resolution. Solely 50% of U.S. offshore waters have been mapped. Maps of the ocean flooring are created utilizing high-resolution sonar gadgets carried on ships.

Deep reefs cowl extra of the ocean flooring than tropical reefs. Each sorts of habitat are inclined to related dangers, together with local weather change and disturbance from oil and fuel drilling, mentioned Erik Cordes, a marine biologist at Temple College and co-author of the brand new research.


The Related Press Well being and Science Division receives assist from the Howard Hughes Medical Institute’s Science and Academic Media Group. The AP is solely accountable for all content material.

Subscribe to Impression Report, a weekly publication on the tendencies and points shaping company sustainability. Sign up free of charge.