The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is one of the most spectacular views and structures in the natural world. Scientists are baffled at a recent finding, which proves that behind the Great Barrier, there is another wide coral reef.
The wide coral reef which seconds the Great Barrier is located in northern Queensland. It was discovered by Mardi McNeil and her team, and the discovery was announced to the public yesterday.
The leader of the study noted that the recently discovered reef was actually wider than researchers initially thought. Calculations showed them that it measures 6,000 square kilometers, which is approximately 2,300 square miles.
Researchers have been suspecting that there is another structure behind the Australian Great Barrier for decades, but now it is the first time when they have proper evidence. Professor McNeil’s study is the first one to document on the details of the secondary coral reef.
According to the recent observations of the team, the massive structure has been created over time, and it consists of the dead remains of a green algae. This plant is called Halimeda bioherms. When they die, they gather on the sea floor and result in wide, circular structures which can even reach three hundred meters. They are also about ten meters deep.
The discovery of the wide coral reefs comes with several scientific advantages. Firstly, it is important by itself, as it is a newly found structure. Secondly, further analyses of it can provide the researchers with data on the climate, the water temperature, and the marine environment in the period the reef started to take shape.
The finding of the wide coral reef is also good news, because, except for it, only bad news seem to be around the famous Great Barrier Reef. Global warming and record high temperatures this year affected the mighty structure. Environmentalists inform us that the Great Barrier is in danger because of coral bleaching.
The bleaching phenomenon is caused by excessive warm waters, which makes corals reject the algae that inhabit them. Corals and algae are interdependent, as the algae help them feed, and in return, they receive a home from the corals.
Scientists have reasons to be worried about the health of the Great Barrier Reef, as recent research points out that almost ninety percent of the structure might be affected by the illness.
Image courtesy of: Flickr