Colossal Coral Reef Discovered

Colossal Coral Reef Discovered

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A newly mapped deep-sea coral reef extends from Florida to South Carolina, covering around 310 miles in length and 68 miles in width.

Researchers have charted a colossal deep-sea coral reef system off the southeastern coast of the United States. Described as an underwater metropolis of a 'million mounds', this vast network stretches across the continental shelf and heralds a new chapter in ocean exploration.

The mapping of this coral reef, a feat accomplished through advanced 3D imaging technology, is a landmark in maritime science, underscoring the vast, uncharted territories that still lie hidden beneath the waves.

A subaquatic frontier

The discovery, led by the Ocean Exploration Trust aboard the NOAA vessel Okeanos Explorer, was made possible by advanced mapping technologies. Stretching from Florida to North Carolina, this region, once a blank spot on nautical maps, has been transformed into a detailed topographic landscape revealing the rich coral ecosystem.

This extensive deep-sea coral metropolis, comprising millions of coral mounds, is hailed as one of the largest of its kind to date. With some coral mounds rising over 100ft from the ocean floor, these structures offer a sanctuary to a multitude of marine species, many of which may be new to science.


Mapping this hidden reef system is crucial for conservation. Understanding the topography and biodiversity of these reefs is essential to protect them from human-induced threats and climate change. Moreover, deep-sea corals are known for their longevity and can provide key insights into past ocean conditions, which are vital for studying the health of our oceans.

With vast areas of our oceans still uncharted, every discovery like this is a reminder of the natural wonders that lie beneath the waves, waiting to be discovered and protected for future generations.

Fact file

Dense thickets of the reef-building coral Desmophyllum pertusum (formerly known as Lophelia pertusa) make up most of the deep-sea coral reef habitat found on the Blake Plateau in the Atlantic Ocean. The white colour is healthydeep-sea corals do not rely on symbiotic algae, so they cannot bleach.

NOAA Ocean Exploration
Geomatics journal

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