'Massive' coral reef taller than the Empire State Building discovered in Australia

Katie Ramirez
October 28, 2020

The more than 500 meter high reef is higher than the Empire State Building, the Sydney Tower and the Petronas Twin Towers and was discovered by Australian scientists on board the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor, which is now exploring the ocean around Australia for 12 months.

The reef was discovered while mapping the northern Great Barrier Reef seabed from the Schmidt Ocean Institute's research vessel Falkor. And at approximately 500 metres, it is taller than the Empire State Building.

Australia's Great Barrier Reef (GBR) is made up of nearly 3,000 individual reefs, a number now one larger after the announcement of the first discovery of a new reef in 120 years.

Five days later, they conducted an exploratory, live-streamed dive with SuBastian, the Institute's underwater robot.

According to Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute, there are still many unknown structures and species within our oceans.

Robin Beaman, who led the outreach, said he was "surprised" by the findings. "It's unbelievable not only to map this discovery with SuBastian in 3D, but also to see it visually".

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At 500 meters, it is taller than the Empire State Building (381 meters to the top floor), the Sydney Tower (305 meters) and the Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 meters). The New York Post reports that the underwater "edifice" chalked up to a whooping 1,640 feet tall. They have been tracked since the late 1800s, including a reef at Raine Island - the world's most vital green sea turtle nesting area. In April, scientists also discovered the longest recorded sea creature-a 45-meter siphonophore in Ningaloo Canyon, in addition to up to 30 new species.

While coral reefs across the globe remain under threat as a result of the climate crisis, a team of scientists have discovered a truly rare find.

The team is now conducting its 12-month exploration of the oceans surrounding Australia.

Scientists found the detached reef, which is the first to be discovered in more than 120 years, in waters off North Queensland while on an expedition, ocean research organization Schmidt Ocean Institute announced on Monday.

Back in February, their year started with the discovery of deep sea coral gardens and graveyards in Bremer Canyon Marine Park. "New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us".

The maps created by the researchers on their voyages will be available through AusSeabed, a national Australian seabed mapping program, and will also contribute to the Nippon Foundation's GEBCO Seabed 2030 Project.

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