Scientists have found pristine coral reefs building and supporting a rich underwater habitat near the Galapagos Islands.
While the world is battling the dreadful effects of climate change, researchers in a parallel world are working towards viable solutions to protect our natural resources. In particular, marine ecosystems are at high risk due to acidification and oxygen depletion caused by climate change and experts are taking strenuous actions to sort this issue. The recent discovery of pristine coral reefs brimming with life off the coast of the Galapagos Islands, according to Good News Network, is a promising sign for the world that's distraught about climate change effects.
Schmidt Ocean Institute along with a team of international interdisciplinary team of scientists, in their month-long expedition found the existence of two pristine coral reefs within the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve. In most cases, coral reefs are found in depths of up to 120 feet from the surface. But, this expedition discovered cold-water coral reefs situated at depths ranging from 1200 to 1377 feet beneath the surface. Spanning over 800m (2625 feet) in length, the larger of the two reefs covers the length of two football fields and the smaller one measures up to 250m (820 feet) in length. Following the discovery of the first deep coral reefs within the Galapagos Islands Marine Reserve, this expedition found two more reefs with diverse stony coral species that have been forming and sustaining a marine ecosystem for thousands of years.
“Vertical deep-water coral reefs are areas where essentially corals live on the side of an underwater cliff.” Join us as we explore pristine spaces hanging off steep, vertical cliffs in the #DeepSea on the #CliffReefs expedition!— Schmidt Ocean (@SchmidtOcean) September 27, 2023
Full video: https://t.co/50nwfeVh7h
Signifying the vitality of this expedition, the Schmidt Ocean Institute wrote on Instagram: "A mountain range starts off the coast of Galápagos Islands and ends south of Costa Rica — as part of the Galápagos Marine Reserve, it exists in one of the largest marine protected areas in the world. In this near-pristine underwater habitat, deep-sea corals are extremely important, providing homes for fish, crustaceans and a host of other creatures, but conditions are changing because of climate change."
They added that "the ocean is losing oxygen, which all animals need to survive, and the water is becoming more acidic" and mentioned that the experts on this expedition are "examining the biodiversity in Oxygen Minimum Zones to learn which animals are adapting, and which aren’t." They believe that research will enhance efforts to "manage fisheries, gauge human impact and inform future conservation efforts."
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Led by Dr. Katleen Robert of the Fisheries and Marine Institute of Memorial University of Newfoundland and Labrador, this expedition aimed to apply laser scanning technology to create high-resolution maps of the two reefs and has achieved two-millimeter resolution maps. "We are thrilled our mapping data are able to improve our understanding of reef ecosystems in the Galápagos," said Dr. Robert. They indicated that the data collected through this expedition will be resourceful in conserving marine biodiversity. Danny Rueda Córdova, director of the Galápagos National Park Directorate, stated: "This information is not only valuable from a scientific perspective, but it also provides a solid foundation for decision-making that effectively protects these ecosystems, safeguarding the biological diversity they harbor and ensuring their resilience in a constantly changing environment. The geological dynamics of the region play a fundamental role in the deep-sea ecosystems. Research and mapping are essential tools to ensure that the Galápagos continue to be an iconic example of the beauty and importance of nature."