Researchers have uncovered a vast coral reef about a hundred miles off the South Carolina coasts, near the town of Charleston. The finding, reported earlier, is of great importance for the marine life, and, although it’s a novelty for scientists, the coral reef of the South Carolina coasts is old. But the scientists who found the reef say it may have been half a mile beneath the ocean for several thousand or even hundreds of thousands of years.
A human-operated vehicle called Alvin made the finding
The thick cold-water coral settlement spread across the ocean floor half a mile under the surface, and the area was lined with living corals. These corals grew on enormous skeletal remains of older, deceased corals. The crew claims that these older corals have probably lived in the region for thousands of years.
The researchers made the discovery using Alvin, a human-operated subaquatic vehicle. Alvin was used to scouting the coral reef and taking samples on August 23rd and 24th. They found significant numbers of Lophelia pertusa, a whitish, branched coral that prefers cold waters.
Lophelia pertusa is not reliant on symbiotic algae to grow, opposing to the tropical coral reefs which need algae to survive. Instead, the coral on the new coral reef off the South Carolina coasts possesses stinging tentacles to paralyze the prey and then direct the food to its stomach.
Researchers found vast coral reef off the South Carolina coasts
The coral reef the Atlantis team of researchers found was located 16 miles northwest of the reefs that the Okeanos Explorer research ship uncovered earlier this summer. When the newly discovered coral reef off the South Carolina coasts and the reef found earlier this summer are paired together, they stretch for more than 85 miles.
The newly found coral reef appears to be encased in massive rocky mounds composed of dead corals that have built up over several thousand years.