This story was initially revealed in our Sept/Oct 2022 difficulty as “Deep Coral.” Click on right here to subscribe to learn extra tales like this one.
Hopeful information about coral is difficult to come back by as of late. That’s a part of the explanation photographs of this extraordinary reef in French Polynesia made the media rounds early this 12 months. Positioned off the coast of Tahiti, its rose-shaped colonies stretch repeatedly throughout almost 2 miles of seafloor. However at a depth round 150 ft within the South Pacific, the reef remained largely uncharted till final 12 months, when coral biologist Laetitia Hédouin paid it a go to after a tip from an area dive store. The mixture of its measurement, depth and pristine high quality was startling.
“It’s like a treasure,” Hédouin says, describing the mature coral as nearly untouched by local weather change. “The query is: How lengthy will it survive?” Research point out that coral protection globally shrunk by half between the Nineteen Fifties and early 2000s, and a few 14 % of the world’s coral died off between 2009 and 2018, largely resulting from warming seas and ongoing bleaching occasions.
Hédouin partnered with UNESCO to doc and research this thriving Tahiti reef in late 2021. Notably, the workforce of researchers and photographers documented a few of the similar species which are threatened in shallower reefs, suggesting these lesser-explored, mesophotic reefs — these deeper than 100 ft, the place daylight is proscribed — might play an important function in preserving coral. And scientists don’t actually know what number of wholesome mesophotic reefs are hiding in our oceans’ depths.
Developments in dive know-how are shifting that. Hédouin says rebreather gear on this newest expedition allowed divers to recycle their air and prolong time at depth 4 occasions longer than typical diving. Modifications within the affordability and security of such instruments are increasing ocean analysis prospects.