NASA oceanographer Gene Feldman once said we know more about the surface of Mars than we do about the bottom of the ocean. That’s because, according to NASA, we’ve only mapped about 5% to 15% of the ocean floor. But as we do more research, scientists are discovering amazing and wonderful things below the surface of the water.
Case in point, officials recently announced the discovery of a coral reef off the coast of Australia that is taller than the Empire State Building. The Schmidt Ocean Institute announced the discovery this week. It’s the first such discovery in the Great Barrier Reef in more than 120 years.
Discovery of Massive Coral Reef a Surprise
Scientists aboard the research vessel Falkor, which is on a yearlong mission to study the oceans surrounding Australia, found the 1,640-foot-tall coral reef on Oct. 20. The base of the reef is more than a mile wide. The Empire State Building is 1,454-feet tall.
“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute in a press release. “The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies … new ocean-scapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”
Scientists even live-streamed the confirmation dive on Oct. 25 using an underwater remote-controlled vehicle named SuBastian. Scientists named SuBastian and Falkor after characters in “The NeverEnding Story,” Travel + Leisure said.
“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” Expedition leader Robin Beaman said in a statement. “To not only 3-D map the reef in detail, but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible.”
The Great Barrier Reef is the world’s largest coral reef, covering more than 133,000 square miles. It’s home to thousands of different species of fish and aquatic animals, according to CNN. Though, coral bleaching has killed more than half of the corals since 1995. That’s because, scientists say, of human-caused global warming, the BBC reported.