A new sponge and coral reef more than 600 miles long has been discovered by researchers in the largest river in the word, the Amazon River. The reef is located precisely at the mouth of the Amazon., Stretching across more than 3,600 square miles of the sea floor.

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The discovery took three decades long. Rodrigo Moura, a senior Brazilian scientist made came up with the idea of searching for this reef that he thought might be in the region. Patricia Yager, a professor of oceanography and climate change at the University of Georgia, initially researching the Amazonian plume’s effects on the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide, was skeptical when Mouro suggested the journey. However, Moura managed to convince her to search for the reef.

Yager remembered what she described as a “Big old dredge” on back deck of the oceanography building at the University of Washington. Yager and Moura shipped the dredge and started searching through it. What they found was evidence such as corals, sponges, stars, and fish. Apparently, there was a coral reef closer to them than they thought! The researchers were mostly shocked of the Reef’s very existence due to the gunk in the Amazonian plume. Rebecca Albright, an oceanographer and coral researcher at the Carnegie Institution for Science, even admitted that reefs are not known to be in that specific area, making the discovery even more rare and unique.

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Studies have proven that the new reef is now the northernmost one in Brazil. Specimens found at the new reef indicate that this system that the reef was found on functions as a kind of bridge between the Brazilian and the Caribbean reefs.

Although the exciting news brought hope for Coral Reef Researchers, some challenges threaten the new Amazonian Reef. Climate Change may interfere with organism’s ability to tolerate harsh conditions. Also, the Brazilian government has sold 80 blocks for oil exploration and drilling at the mouth of the river, Twenty already producing.

According to Moura, researchers don’t have an approximate measure of the location of the reefs yet, but the leases are supposed to be right at the mouth of the river.

 

References

  1. Robinson Meyer. Scientists have Discovered a 600-Mile Coral Reef. The Atlantic. April, 21. 2016.