A giant new ocean reef has been discovered off the coast of North Queensland – and it’s almost as tall as the giant Petronas Twin Towers in Malaysia and taller than New York’s iconic Empire State Building.
The reef is in the waters off Cape Yorke and rises from a depth of 500m beneath the ocean to just 40m below the surface. Length-wise, it runs for about 1.5km and researchers estimate that it’s around 20-million years old at its deepest part.
Not part of the Barrier Reef
It’s known as a ‘detached’ reef, which means it’s not part of the main body of the Great Barrier Reef.
The first such reef to be discovered in more than a century, it was found by researchers working with the US-based Schmidt Ocean Institute, which is using an oceanographic research vessel and other deep-sea research technology as part of a 12-month mapping project of Australia’s oceans.
According to research leader Dr Robin Beaman from James Cook University in Queensland, the new reef sits among a group of seven other detached reefs that were discovered in the 1800s.
Could have unique species
However, this reef is, he explained, more vibrant and teeming with ocean life than the others.
Beaman said that, because reefs like this are quite isolated from surrounding coral reefs due to the deep water in between them, there is potential for them to evolve unique species of marine life.
“It’s going to take time for us to work through the imagery and samples we’ve collected
Team found ‘walking’ fish
The new reef is about 150km south of the tip of Cape York on Queensland’s east coast.
Recently the same research team reported that it had made the first recorded observation in Australian waters of a ‘walking’ fish with the scientific name of Rhinopias agroliba.
The fish walks on its pectoral fins and looks like it is using a pair of hands to propel itself along.