Sprawling climate resilient coral reef found off Tahiti | Totally Vegan Buzz
Sprawling climate resilient coral reef found off Tahiti
Image: @alexis.rosenfeld / Instagram

The blossoming corals found at depths more than 30 metres (100 feet) appear to be largely unscathed by climate change and human pressures.

Deep sea explorers have found a sprawling reef of giant rose-shaped corals in a ‘twilight zone’ off the coast of Tahiti.

The ‘pristine’ and rare 3km long reef near the French Polynesian island appears to be largely unscathed by climate change and human activity.

It lies at depths of more than 30 metres (100 feet) deep enough to protect it from the bleaching effects of the warming ocean.

According to scientists, it probably took about 25 years for the reef to grow.

Alexis Rosenfeld, an underwater photographer from Marseille, France, photographed the reef as part of an underwater mapping project called 1 Ocean sponsored by UNESCO, the U.N. Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.

“It was magical to witness giant, beautiful rose corals which stretch for as far as the eye can see. It was like a work of art,” Rosenfeld said.

What are corals?

Corals are tiny animals that grow and form reefs in oceans around the world. These reefs sustain about one billion people worldwide and support about 25% of global marine life.

However, rising water temperatures caused by climate change, ocean acidification, and overfishing have depleted many of the world’s coral reefs.

Between 2015 and 2017, a global bleaching event affected all but three of the 29 coral reefs listed by UNESCO as world heritage sites.

Coral bleaching is a potentially lethal stress response by overheated corals during heatwaves in which they expel symbiotic microalgae feeding it, and turn white.

Most notably, Australia’s Great Barrier Reef – a World Heritage-listed wonder – has lost an estimated 80% of its corals due to severe bleaching events since 2016.

‘More ocean floor to be mapped to better safeguard marine biodiversity’

Environmentalists have hailed the discovery of the rose shaped corals and hope more research on them can help experts understand how the reef has been resilient to climate change and human pressures, and what role can these deeper corals play in protecting the ocean ecosystem.

Moreover, with improvements in diving technology, which had previously inhibited exploration, researchers are hopeful to discover more marine habitats in deeper recesses of the ocean.

Julian Barbiere, the head of UNESCO’s marine policy and regional coordination said: “We know very little about the ocean, and there’s still so much that needs to be recorded, needs to be measured.”

Unesco’s director general Audrey Azoulay added: “To date, we know the surface of the moon better than the deep ocean. Only 20% of the entire seabed has been mapped.”

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