New coral reef higher than Eiffel Tower discovered off Australian coast

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Australian scientists have found a detached coral reef on the Great Barrier Reef that exceeds the height of the Empire State Building and the Eiffel Tower, the Schmidt Ocean Institute said this week, the first such discovery in addition to 100 years.The “blade-shaped” reef is nearly 500 meters high and 1.5 kilometers wide, said the institute founded by former Google boss Eric Schmidt and his wife, Wendy. It’s almost as high as the CN Tower, whose antenna reaches a height of 553 meters.

The reef is 40 meters below the ocean’s surface and about six kilometers from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef.

A team of scientists from James Cook University, led by Robin Beaman, were mapping the northern seabed of the Great Barrier Reef on board the Falkor Institute’s research vessel, when they found the reef on October 20. “We are surprised and delighted with what we have found,” said Beaman.

WATCH | Scientists explore newly discovered huge reef

Australian scientists have discovered a multi-million-year-old coral reef that dwarfs the Empire State Building. 1:51

He said it was the first detached reef of this size to be discovered in more than 120 years and that it thrived with a “blizzard of fish” in a healthy ecosystem.

The discovery comes after a study earlier this month found that the Great Barrier Reef has lost more than half of its coral in the past three decades.

The newly discovered reef is 40 meters below the ocean’s surface and about six kilometers from the edge of the Great Barrier Reef. (CBC)

Reef explored by a robot

Using the underwater robot known as SuBastian, scientists filmed their exploration of the new reef, collecting marine samples along the way, which will be archived and placed at the Queensland Museum and the Museum of Tropical Queensland.

“Not only 3D mapping the reef in detail, but also visually seeing this discovery with SuBastian is amazing,” Beaman added.

A robotic arm takes a sample of the reef, in this still image from a video from October 25. (Schmidt Ocean Institute via REUTERS)

Although the northern section of the Great Barrier Reef suffered from bleaching in 2016, Beaman said this detached reef showed no evidence of damage.

Bleaching occurs when the water is too hot, forcing the coral to expel living algae and causing it to calcify and turn white.

The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2,300 km (1,429 miles) along Australia’s northeast coast, covering an area half the size of Texas. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1981 by UNESCO as the largest and most spectacular coral reef ecosystem on the planet.

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