Giant deep sea coral reef discovered off Atlantic coast

A giant deep sea coral reef has been discovered by researchers off the East coast of the US.

It was only a week ago that a team of scientists left the North Carolina shore in search of uncharted underwater territory. Nothing, however, could have prepared them for the shock of finding a coral reef, relatively close to home.

Expedition head, oceanographer and microbiologist Samatha Joye, described herself as a ‘kid in a candy store‘ when referring to the prospect of being able to explore the deep sea in this manner.

As reported by Chris D’Angelo of The Huffington Post, ‘Joye, a professor with the University of Georgia who’s been highly involved in researching the impacts of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico, is among nearly two dozen scientists currently working aboard the R/V Atlantis, a 274-foot research vessel owned by the U.S. Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute. Over the next two weeks, the team is scheduled to use Alvin for 12 deep sea dives. All but a few are to locations no one has ever been. The researchers will explore canyons, gas seeps and coral ecosystems, making their way as far south as the Florida-Georgia border.’

Chief scientist Erik Cordes made a prediction that the team would find something, and they certainly did; an estimated 85 mile long coral reef, 160 miles off the coast of Charleston, South Carolina. As Cordes stated to D’Angelo in a subsequent report. “This is a huge feature,” Cordes said. “It’s incredible that it stayed hidden off the U.S. East Coast for so long.”

The discovery of any new reef is positive, given that bleaching and pollution have been taking their toll on many marine ecosystems. Recent shows such as David Attenborough‘s Blue Planet, have showcased the plight of the oceans, and their current fragility.

D’Angelo will be with the current expedition off the US coast until September 3rd. You can stay up to date with his findings at his Huffington Post author page.