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Largest Deep-Sea Coral Reef Discovered off Atlantic Coast of the US

By Amigos IAS

Why is it in the news?

  • Researchers in the USA have recently made a groundbreaking discovery by mapping the largest deep-sea coral reef off the Atlantic coast of the United States, spanning an impressive 310 miles (499 kilometres) from Florida to South Carolina.
  • Ranging from 200 meters to 1000 meters, the depth of the reef surpasses the reach of sunlight, creating a unique ecosystem in the ocean’s depths.

About Coral Reefs

  • Coral reefs are structures formed by coral polyps held together by calcium carbonate, creating intricate underwater ecosystems.
  • Often referred to as the tropical rainforests of the sea, coral reefs cover only 0.1% of the ocean’s surface but provide habitats for 25% of marine species.
  • The Great Barrier Reef in Australia is known as the world’s largest tropical coral reef system.

Differences Between Deep and Shallow Water Coral Reefs:

CharacteristicsShallow or Tropical Water Coral ReefDeep Water Coral Reef
Sunlight RequirementRequire sunlight for growthDo not require sunlight for growth
AccessibilityMore accessible and known to scientistsLess known to scientists; only about 75% of the world’s ocean floor mapped in high resolution
Area CoverageCover less area of the ocean floorCover more areas of the ocean floor
Habitats ProvidedProvide habitats to various sponges, crabs, and sea starsProvide habitats for sharks, swordfish, sea stars, etc.

Threats to Coral Reefs:

  • Both shallow and deep-sea coral reefs face threats from climate change, including rising sea temperatures and ocean acidification.
  • Oil spills and other forms of pollution pose significant risks to coral reefs, affecting their health and the marine life they support.

Conclusion

  • The discovery contributes to our understanding of deep-sea biodiversity and the interconnectedness of marine ecosystems.
  • It highlights the need for conservation efforts to protect these vulnerable ecosystems from environmental threats.

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