Tahiti’s giant rose reef amazes divers

‘Work of art’
Diver on the rose coral reef. CRED: @Alexis.Rosenfeld

One of the biggest coral reefs in the world has been discovered off the coast of Tahiti in French Polynesia. Scuba divers have been exploring the site, which is made up of giant rose-shaped hard corals, each growing up to 2m across and in pristine condition.

The reef is about 3km long and between 30 and 60/65m wide, but such surprise discoveries are always possible while only a fifth of the seabed has been mapped to date, say scientists from the UNESCO-supported research team that located it.

The site’s sheer extent makes it a highly valuable discovery, they report, but what makes it even more unusual is that unlike the vast majority of the world’s known coral reefs, which lie no deeper than 25m, the Tahiti reef thrives at shadier depths of 30-65m.  

“So this discovery suggests that there are many more large reefs out there, at depths of more than 30m – in what is known as the ocean’s ‘twilight zone’ – that we simply do not know about,” says UNESCO. 

The scientific team has so far carried out some 200 hours of dives to study the reef, during which time the divers have been able to witness the coral spawning. Further investigative dives are planned in the coming months, concentrating on the marine-life species that live on the reef.

“French Polynesia suffered a significant bleaching event back in 2019 – however, this reef does not appear to have been significantly affected,“ said marine biologist Dr Laetitia Hedouin from France’s National Centre of Scientific Research (CNRS). “The discovery of this reef in such a pristine condition is good news and can inspire future conservation. 

“We think that deeper reefs may be better protected from global warming.”

The Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission of UNESCO co-ordinates global programmes such as ocean-mapping and tsunami alert systems, along with numerous scientific research projects. The agency is also the guardian of 232 marine biosphere reserves and 50 marine World Heritage sites, and through the 2020s is leading the UN Decade of Ocean Science for Sustainable Development.

The “1 Ocean” campaign, led by explorer-photographer Alexis Rosenfeld in partnership with UNESCO through the decade, sis seeing a range of investigative expeditions being carried out as part of the agency’s mission to map the ocean. 

“It was magical to witness giant, beautiful rose corals which stretch for as far as the eye can see,” commented Rosenfeld of the Tahiti reef he has been documenting. “It was like a work of art.”

LET’S KEEP IN TOUCH!

Get a weekly roundup of all Divernet news and articles 🤿

We don’t spam! Read our privacy policy for more info.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

Related Divernet Posts

Diver Magazine Relaunch

Diver magazine needs YOU!

Are you still lamenting the demise of Diver magazine? Well now you can help resurrect an icon as we seek to bring back the magazine

Turtles of Raja Ampat

Turtles of Raja Ampat

The Raja Ampat Creature Feature Series: Turtles Raja Ampat is the perfect diving location to find four of the seven ocean turtle species of the

manta ray and diver over reef in Komodo

Divers pitch into Komodo manta probe

Manta rays choose to stick around Indonesia’s Komodo National Park in unusually large numbers – and, according to a new diver-led study, this community could

female diver holding pair of Fourth Element Tech fins

Tech fins inspired by humpback whales

Whales provided the inspiration for optimising efficiency in Fourth Element’s latest fins, according to the Cornwall-based manufacturer. The “turbulence disruptors” on top of the blades

Last Breath portrait of Woody Harrelson

Woody dives into Last Breath remake

A new version of the British documentary-thriller that captured the imaginations of divers in 2019 is about to be previewed at the Cannes Film Festival.

Follow Divernet on Social Media