The Great Barrier Reef has not lost its power to surprise and overwhelm the senses, it seems. Australian scientists have just discovered a detached coral reef so tall that it dwarfs skyscrapers such as London’s Shard – and it’s the first to be discovered for more than 120 years.
The blade-like, 500m-high reef was found in the northern Cape York area of the GBR on 20 October by an international scientific team, led by marine geologist Dr Robin Beaman from James Cook University, Townsville.
They were working from the Schmidt Ocean Institute (SOI)’s research vessel Falkor, now in the last month of a year-long seabed-mapping expedition in the seas around Australia.
On Sunday (25 October) the team followed up with a live-streamed dive using the institute’s underwater robot SuBastian. A four-hour recording of the high-resolution footage obtained can be seen here.
The base of the newly discovered reef is 1.5km wide and at its peak it reaches to within 40m of the sea surface. Seven other tall detached reefs were already known about in the GBR by the late 19th century, including Raine Island, considered the world’s most important green turtle nesting area.
“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” commented Dr Beaman. “To not only 3D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible.”