Pristine Coral Reefs Found in Tahiti

Pristine Coral Reefs Found in Tahiti
This photo provided by @alexis.rosenfeld shows rose-shaped corals in the waters off the Tahiti coast of French Polynesia in December 2021. Deep in Tahiti in the South Pacific, scientists have discovered a rare and pristine strip of rose-shaped coral off the coast. The reef is thought to be one of the largest found at such depths and appears to have not been affected by climate change or human activities. Credits: Alexis Rosenfeld via AP

Deep in the South Pacific, scientists have discovered rare pristine corals in the form of roses off the coast of Tahiti. It is as important below as the top of the earth. The inability to easily examine the ocean floors and coasts is a factor in the inability to make discoveries. The reef is thought to be one of the largest found at such depths and appears to have been unaffected by climate change or human activities.

Laetitia Hédouin first saw corals months ago during a recreational dive with a local dive club. Researcher Hédouin says, “When I first got there, I was like, 'Wow, we need to study that reef. I thought, 'There's something special about that reef,' he explains.

What surprised Hédouin was that the corals looked healthy and unaffected by a color change event in 2019. Corals are tiny animals that grow and form reefs in oceans around the world.

Globally, coral reefs are depleted from overfishing and pollution. Climate change is also harming sensitive corals through severe bleaching or discoloration caused by warmer waters, including adjacent areas of the newly discovered reef. According to a 2020 report by the Global Coral Reef Monitoring Project, 2009% of the world's corals were killed between 2018 and 14.

The newly discovered reef, which stretches for 2 miles (3 kilometers), was studied last year during a UNESCO-sponsored diving expedition. Unlike most of the world's mapped corals, which are found in relatively shallow waters, this coral was deeper, at approximately 35 meters to 70 meters.

Divers descending to depths also bring problems. So the team was outfitted with special tanks and spent 200 hours diving to examine the reef, including photography, measurements and coral samples.

Former National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration oceanographer Mark Eakin said the reef is at a point where many researchers don't spend a lot of time.

“We will see more of these discoveries as technology is applied to these places,” Eakin said. “We may find larger ones somewhere, but I think this will always be an unusual reef.”

It is also stated that the recent volcanic eruption that triggered tsunami waves across the Pacific in Tonga did not affect the reefs off Tahiti.

Hédouin hopes the research can help experts understand how the reef is resilient to climate change and human pressures, and what role these deeper corals might play in the ocean ecosystem. More dives are planned in the coming months.

“We know very little about the ocean and there is still a lot to record and measure,” said Julian Barbière, UNESCO's head of maritime policy and regional coordination.

source: physorg

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