Largest Deep-Sea Coral Reef Off US Atlantic Coast Is Mapped by Scientists

According to researchers, the reef reaches South Carolina and Florida a distance of roughly 500 kilometers. It reaches widths of 109 kilometers at some places. Using 3D mapping technology, the researchers took measurements of the reef. It’s astounding in scope and eye-opening, Stuart Sandin told The Associated Press. He works at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography as a marine biologist. The research did not include Sandin. Since the 1960s, ocean scientists have been aware of the existence of some coral life off the Atlantic Coast. However, the precise dimensions of the reef remained unknown. The development of new underwater mapping technologies allowed for the creation of three-dimensional photographs of the ocean floor.

 

According to Derek Sowers, “the largest known deep coral reef has been right under our noses, waiting to be discovered.” He works for the nonprofit Ocean Exploration Trust as an oceanographer. Recently, Sowers and other scientists published maps of the reef in the journal Geomatics. At sea levels ranging from 200 to 1,000 meters, the reef was discovered. Photosynthesis cannot occur in deep-sea organisms due to lack of solar radiation. Rather, in order to obtain energy, reef corals at extremely low depths must filter food particles out of the water.

 

It is well known that species like sharks, swordfish, sea stars, octopuses, shrimp, and many types of fish can be found in deep coral reefs. Because they are more accessible than deep coral reefs, tropical reefs are more well-known to both scientists and marine adventurers. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is the biggest tropical coral reef system in the world, spanning 2,300 kilometers. Sowers stated that since just around 25 percent of the ocean floor has been surveyed in three dimensions, it is likely that greater deep-sea reefs will be found in the future. Just 50% of the offshore seas in the United States have been charted. Sonar, or sophisticated sound equipment, is used by ships to map the ocean floor.

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