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A record-scale deep-sea coral reef has been mapped

A record-scale deep-sea coral reef has been mapped

In the depths of the Ghost Reef, countless unknown sea creatures are hidden in the depths of the Atlantic Ocean, covering a huge area as the largest known deep-sea coral reef has just been discovered.

Most of the Blake Plateau is sparsely populated

Experts have described the discovery as “eye-catching and astonishing,” and as they reminded us, we have no idea what these inaccessible ecosystems hide, as more than 75 percent of the Earth's ocean floor has yet to be mapped. Details: New technology has for the first time allowed researchers to discover a mysterious site off the east coast of North America.
For years we thought most of the Blake Plateau was soft, sparsely populated sediment, but after more than a decade of systematic mapping and exploration, we have discovered one of the largest deep-sea coral reef habitats in the world. Casey Cantwell, director of ocean exploration operations at NOAA, said in a statement: Science Alert Online scientific portal.

Dense fields of Lophelia pertusa (a common reef-building coral) on the hills of the Blake Plateau. The white discoloration is healthy – deep-sea corals don't rely on symbiotic algae, so they can't turn whiteSource: NOAA Ocean Exploration

The mapping survey was carried out by twenty-three submarines, using thirty-one multibeam sonar sounders at depths between 200 and 1,000 metres.

This is where the vast coral reef system is found, where an estimated 83,908 unique coral colonies have been identified.

Unlike their colorful, sun-loving relatives, cold-water corals like Lophelia pertusa do not rely on symbiotic algae that contain pigment, so they are pale white in color. These corals feed on small particles of organic matter filtered from surrounding currents. They grow branching scaffolds that provide shelter and protection for a wide range of deep-sea creatures.In their study, oceanographer Derek Sawyers and colleagues from the University of New Hampshire mapped these cold-water coral habitats in the Blake Plateau region, which support rich communities of invertebrates and fish.

Its astonishing size surprised scientists

The densest and most extensive coral assemblages are located along the relatively warm Florida Current and Gulf Stream, clearly indicating that…

These streams are vital in delivering nutrients to sparsely populated landscapes.

Although the existence of coral reefs has been known since the 1960s, their astonishing size surprised scientists. Its area is 6,215 square kilometers (1.5 million acres), nearly three times the size of Yellowstone National Park.

The eastern coast of North America was home to an amazing variety of wildlifeSource: NOAA Ocean Exploration

We did not know how extensive this habitat was, nor how many coral colonies were connected to each other Cantwell explained. This discovery highlights the importance of exploring deep water areas.

the Geomatics According to a study published in a scientific journal, deep-sea coral reefs likely cover a larger portion of the ocean floor than tropical reefs. Since the Great Barrier Reef alone covers an area of ​​348,700 square kilometers, there must be more cold-water coral forests there. As experts pointed out, Both types of coral reef ecosystems are vulnerable to climate change, trawling and mining, which is a major concern. In light of Norway's recent decision to become the first country to allow deep sea mining.

In one area, researchers found a narrow, almost continuous, four-hundred-kilometre-long stretch of mostly dead coral reef, where L. pertusa debris forms colonies.

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