Over the past several decades, coral reefs across the globe have been shrinking due to a variety of factors, including overfishing and pollution. Recently, however, a stretch of coral reef has been discovered that researchers have described as “pristine.”
The reef is located off the coast of Tahiti. According to a report by the Associated Press (AP), the reef was first discovered by a researcher at the French National Center for Scientific Research during a recreational dive with a local diving club.
Laetitia Hedouin told the AP that she realized that the reef was worth studying as soon as she saw it. She said it looked like it hadn’t been affected by a bleaching event that occurred in 2019.
The coral reef stretches two miles and sits in unusually deep waters, sitting between 115-feet to 230-feet beneath the surface of the water.
This depth posed a challenge for researchers, as they could only spend a limited amount of time on each trip. The divers brought special equipment with them and spent 200 hours taking photographs, samples and measurements of the reef.
Coral are tiny ocean animals that build reefs to live in. These coral reefs are an important part of the ocean’s ecosystem. About 14% of the world’s coral reefs died between 2009 and 2018. Pollution, overfishing and climate change have all been listed as reasons responsible for the decline in coral reef.
Researchers are still trying to determine if it’s possible more reefs like this exist in other deep areas of the ocean, or if this is a unique reef. More dives are planned at the reef in the coming months, and the researchers are hoping that their findings will help them locate more reefs of this nature.