By John Vidal
A huge 3,600 sq mile (9,300 sq km) coral reef system has been found below the muddy waters off the mouth of the river Amazon, astonishing scientists, governments and oil companies who have started to explore on top of it.
The existence of the 600-mile long reef, which ranges from about 30-120m deep and stretches from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhão state, was not suspected because many of the world’s great rivers produce major gaps in reef systems where no corals grow.
In addition, there was little previous evidence because corals mostly thrive in clear, sunlit, salt water, and the equatorial waters near the mouth of the Amazon are some of the muddiest in the world, with vast quantities of sediment washed thousands of miles down the river and swept hundreds of miles out to sea.
But the reef appears to be thriving below the freshwater “plume”, or outflow, of the Amazon. Compared to many other reefs, the scientists say in a paper in Science Advances on Friday, it is is relatively “impoverished”. Nevertheless, they found over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life.
Continue reading by clicking the name of the source below.