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Giant coral reef discovered off Tahiti

Christian Fernsby |
Scientists have discovered a giant coral reef off Tahiti, the largest island of French Polynesia, according to UNESCO on Thursday.

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In a statement, UNESCO said that the coral reef, which is one of the world's largest, was found at a depth of 30 meters.

The reef is 3 kilometers long and 30 to 65 meters wide, and some corals on the reef are more than two meters in diameter.

The rose-shaped coral reefs are in perfect conditions, making it a very important discovery as they are facing threat from climate change, it added.

Scientists supported by UNESCO discovered the reef after a 200-hour long diving session on Nov. 21.

They also started research on why the reef is not directly affected by climate change by placing temperature sensors around the reef.

The majority of coral reefs across the world form at depths of up to 25 meters in water, while the reef in Tahiti is located at the twilight surface from 30 to 120 meters below.

Laetitia Hédouin at France’s National Centre for Scientific Research and her colleagues undertook a diving expedition off the peninsula of Tahiti, where they first discovered the reef. It is primarily composed of two coral species: from 30 to 45 metres deep, Porites rus dominates. Going deeper, Pachyseris speciosa emerges and eventually becomes dominant at depths of 50 to 55 metres.

“It looks like a giant rose garden going as far as the eye can see,” says Julian Barbière at UNESCO’s Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission.

One of the most remarkable things about this reef is its pristine condition.

“It’s a very healthy reef, like a dream come true,” says Hédouin. “In the middle of the biodiversity crisis, this is very good news.”

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