Scientists discover ‘perfect’ new coral reef.
Are they Earth’s most important resource? A survey of the Galapagos islands has uncovered a perfect example of one of the sea’s vanishing treasures, coral.
Over thousands of years, a coral reef grows in the warm, shallow parts of the ocean.
Its colourful shapes look stunning in the sunlit water. For this reason, many people thought we had seen them all. But now, scientists say they have found a new reef.
It is off the shore of Darwin Island, one of the Galapagos islands, belonging to Ecuador. Ecuadorian Environment Minister Jose Davalos said: “A deepwater scientific expedition has found the first totally pristine coral reef, approximately two kilometres long, at 400 metres (deep), on the summit of a submarine mountain… Galapagos surprises us again!”
Across the world, coral reefs are suffering. Warming seas from climate change and nutrient pollution are causing coral bleaching. This is when reefs lose the tiny creatures that lend them their colours and keep them healthy.
Many reefs have lost huge patches of coral to bleaching. Australia’s Great Barrier Reef has shrunk by half. In the Galapagos, many coral reefs died in the 1980s, due to a longer El Niño, when the Pacific Ocean heats up each year.
Coral reefs protect the coast from tsunamis, and have been used to make medicines. Most importantly, countless species live in coral reefs, so finding more is a rare win for the natural world.