Around three quarters of all coral reefs worldwide are acutely threatened. A discovery off the coast of Tahiti gives new hope.
Climate change, overfishing and pollution of the world’s oceans are causing problems for coral reefs worldwide. But now some hope shimmers through the depths of the ocean.
Scientists have discovered a previously unknown and intact coral reef off the coast of the South Pacific island of Tahiti. “It is one of the largest coral reefs in the world,” said the United Nations cultural organization Unesco, which supports research into the reef.
The special thing about it: the reef and its rose-shaped corals, which are more than two meters in size, are in perfect condition, which could be due to the depth of more than 30 meters, among other things.
“It was like a work of art,” said French photographer Alexis Rosenfeld, who led the international diving team. According to Unesco, the reef off the island of Tahiti, which belongs to the French overseas territory French Polynesia, is 3 kilometers long and between 30 and 65 meters wide.
Unlike most world-renowned reefs – like the Great Barrier Reef off the coast of Australia – the newly discovered wonder reef is located at a depth of between 35 and 70 meters. According to Unesco, it belongs to the “twilight zone”, where there is still enough light for the corals to grow and multiply.
This discovery off the coast of Tahiti gives the researchers a glimmer of hope given the impact of climate change on coral reefs. According to Unesco scientists, there could be many more unknown reefs in our oceans. Only around 20 percent of the seabed has been mapped to date.
For Julian Barbiere, head of UNESCO’s marine policy department, this now raises the question of how coral reefs can become more resilient to climate change. And for that, more seabeds would have to be explored.
“We know more about the surface of the moon or Mars than about the depths of the ocean,” Barbière told Reuters.
It is known that coral reefs are among the oldest ecosystems on earth and provide habitat for a quarter of all marine animals. This is one of the reasons why marine biologists around the world are doing a lot to save the fascinating structures.
That is why around three quarters of all coral reefs worldwide are acutely threatened
dho. One reason for the acute threat is climate change: As soon as the water temperature rises only slightly, the algae leave the polyps – they are the builders of the coral together with the algae – and the corals bleach. If the high temperatures persist, the coral polyps die, are overgrown by algae or leave behind bare, colorless calcareous skeletons. Added to this is the destructive fishing with bottom trawls. As the nature conservation organization WWF writes on its website, the nets roll over the seabed with their rollers and plates like bulldozers. Coral reefs that have grown over centuries are destroyed within a very short time.
With agency material