Scientists have discovered a nearly two-mile long coral reef off the coast of Tahiti.
It’s in pristine condition, at a depth of over 30 meters - thought to be deep enough to protect it from the bleaching effects of warming ocean waters.
The unusual discovery gives scientists hope that there may be more unspoilt reefs to be found in our oceans.
Julian Barbiere is the head of marine policy at UNESCO.
“So generally, coral reefs are found up to 25 metres in tropical systems, so it's quite impressive to find such system in a very good state of health at that sort of depth.’’
"So the type of coral reefs that were found are from the folliacious type, which basically means leaf-like in Latin. And if you look at the images, it's basically a field of huge flowers, coral garden in a way. Some of them looks like roses, some of them are 2-metres wide."
The reef was found in what is known as the ‘Twilight Zone’ off Tahiti’s coast
an area where there is still enough light for coral to grow and reproduce
but deep enough to avoid bleaching – a stress response triggered by warming waters – which causes corals to lose their color and struggle to survive.
Perhaps the most famous - Australia's Great Barrier Reef - has suffered severe bleaching to an estimated 80% of its corals since 2016.
‘’I think what's important is that it also raises the issue of how coral reefs become more resilient to climate change, because climate change is the main aspect that is impacting coral reefs. We also have pollution and overfishing, which comes on that. But certainly, that gives us hope that there might be other ecosystems that we have not found in the ocean, particularly this type of coral reef and this kind of depth."