State’s newly discovered feature taller than Q1

 

A new coral reef taller than New York's Empire State Building has been discovered in remote waters off Cape York.

Like an underwater mountain, the as-yet-unnamed reef spans about 1.5km long and rises to over 500m tall, its pinnacle sitting about 40m below the surface of the ocean.

That's about 200m higher than Paris's Eiffel Tower, and also dwarfs Queensland's tallest skyscraper, the Q1 tower on the Gold Coast, which stands at 322m.

Scientists are excited about the possibility of finding new marine species there.

Marine life captured on a newly discovered 500m tall coral reef, off Cape York. Picture: supplied.
Marine life captured on a newly discovered 500m tall coral reef, off Cape York. Picture: supplied.

An international team, led by Queensland researchers, made the unexpected discovery last week about 80km east of Cape Grenville.

The new reef is among a cluster of eight tall "detached" reefs in the area, so-called because they sit outside the main body of the Great Barrier Reef.

But while the other seven reefs were all mapped in the 1800s, the new discovery has remained unexplored - until now. It's the first detached reef found in more than 120 years.

That's probably because the completely submerged reef did not pose a navigational hazard to 19th century ships.

Tom Bridge, a James Cook University senior research fellow and senior curator of corals at the Queensland Museum, was involved in a five-hour exploration of the reef on Monday using a remotely operated robot.

 

A remotely operated robot about to be deployed on a new coral reef, discovered off Cape York.
A remotely operated robot about to be deployed on a new coral reef, discovered off Cape York.

Dr Bridge said he expected the reef to reveal yet-to-be-described marine species.

He said much work was ahead analysing specimens collected and information captured on video of the new reef from the robot.

"We know more about the surface of the moon than we know about what lies in the depths beyond our coastlines," Dr Bridge said.

The scientists worked aboard the 83m research vessel Falkor, owned by the Schmidt Ocean Institute, founded by American philanthropist Wendy Schmidt and her husband, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt.

The Falkor is on a 12-month mapping project of Australia's oceans.

The project has already uncovered new marine creatures, including the world's longest recorded: a 45m siphonophore discovered in Ningaloo Canyon, off Western Australia.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Originally published as State's newly discovered feature taller than Q1



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