The coral reef was discovered at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Just last year scientists discovered a previously unknown coral reef that is now known to be located at the mouth of the Amazon River. Now, through a collaboration with an expedition by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza, the first ever images have been published of the never seen before biome. The system of corals is extremely large, and has been said to cover an area larger than São Paulo or London, according to recent reports. The coral reef is made up of a patchy strip that covers a total length of 1,125 kilometres (700 miles), and spans from a few miles off the coast of French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhão. The new photographs were taken by researchers who travelled to the Amazon Coral Reef in a mini-submarine which was launched from the Esperanza, around 100 kilometers (62 miles) off the Brazilian coast.
Reports have claimed that the location is quite an unusual, and therefore unexpected, area for a coral reef to be found, as they are usually only located in salty waters which have clear access to sunlight. In huge contrast to this, the Amazon Coral Reef is located in a muddy river mouth. Nils Asp, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará, explained more about the reef and the possibilities that could arise from it in a statement. He said, “This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light, and physicochemical water conditions. It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian Coastal Zone.”
Despite explanations from scientists and researchers about the potential for biodiversity and new species, oil companies including Total and BP are already looking at the nearby areas that are believed to contain around 15 to 20 billion barrels of crude oil, according to Greenpeace. Thiago Almeida, a campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil, said, “We must defend the reef and the entire region at the mouth of the Amazon River basin from the corporate greed that puts profits ahead of the environment. One of Total’s oil blocks is only eight kilometers from the reef, and environmental licensing processes are already under way.”
Coral reefs are important to protect as they hold some of the most diverse ecosystems in the world, with some being home to tens of thousands of marine species. As well as hosting almost one third of all marine fish species, coral reefs are also an essential factor in protecting coastlines. They protect them from storms, as well as providing “billions of dollars of food and jobs every year to people around the world.” If the newly discovered Amazon Coral Reef is not protected and looked after, it may eventually end up dying out like the Great Barrier Reef. Just last year, the Great Barrier Reef in Australia was pronounced dead after an existence of more than 25 million years. The reason for its demise was due to huge amounts of stress on the coral as a result of ocean pollution and climate change.
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