Pristine coral reef discovered in deep water off the coast of Tahiti

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A spectacular coral reef has been recovered betwixt 35 and 70 metres beneath oversea level adjacent Tahiti, and it seems to beryllium successful bully wellness contempt the planetary biodiversity crisis

Environment 20 January 2022

By Chen Ly

Coral reef

The pristine coral reef, recently discovered successful heavy h2o adjacent Tahiti

@alexis.rosenfeld

This spectacular rose-shaped coral has been recovered disconnected the seashore of Tahiti successful the Pacific Ocean, astatine depths of betwixt 35 and 70 metres. It forms portion of a reef that stretches for much than 3 kilometres and measures 70 metres crossed astatine its widest. It whitethorn beryllium 1 of the largest recovered astatine specified depths.

Laetitia Hédouin astatine France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and her colleagues undertook a diving expedition disconnected the peninsula of Tahiti, wherever they archetypal discovered the reef. It is chiefly composed of 2 coral species: from 30 to 45 metres deep, Porites rus dominates. Going deeper, Pachyseris speciosa emerges and yet becomes ascendant astatine depths of 50 to 55 metres.

“It looks similar a elephantine roseate plot going arsenic acold arsenic the oculus tin see,” says Julian Barbière astatine UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

One of the astir singular things astir this reef is its pristine condition.

“It’s a precise steadfast reef, similar a imagination travel true,” says Hédouin. “In the mediate of the biodiversity crisis, this is precise bully news.”

Read more: Giant coral is the widest ever recovered successful the Great Barrier Reef

Coral reefs astir the satellite are susceptible successful the look of expanding human-driven pressures, specified arsenic clime change, and earthy disasters, specified arsenic tsunamis and cyclones. Whether the tsunami triggered by the caller Hunga Tonga-Hunga Ha’apai volcano has affected the reef is chartless yet.

This reef is besides 1 of precise fewer we person recovered astatine specified depths, successful what is known arsenic the twilight portion of the ocean, says Barbière.

“There mightiness beryllium galore much ample reefs successful our water astatine specified extent that necessitate much investigation,” helium says. “This could beryllium 1 of the largest coral reefs astatine this extent arsenic acold arsenic we know, but the information is that we haven’t truly looked for coral reefs astatine this depth.”

As it stands, lone 20 per cent of the seafloor has been mapped, says Barbière. By mapping much of the ocean, astatine adjacent greater depths, researchers anticipation to recognize the champion ways to support and negociate these affluent ecosystems.

“Until now, we spot reefs successful 2 dimensions and we seldom see the extent arsenic a captious dimension. [But it] is important for protection, absorption and conservation targets,” says Hédouin.

Millions of radical trust connected the alleged ecosystem services provided by coral reefs for their livelihoods. “We request coral reefs for fisheries, for tourism, adjacent for coastal protection,” she says.

“There are besides benefits to coral reefs which are not ever that obvious,” says Barbière. “We are uncovering much and much imaginable aesculapian solutions done immoderate of the marine organisms that lived successful those ecosystems. Those could assistance make drugs to dainty crab oregon arthritis for example.”

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