From: Jessica Ramos, Care2, More from this Affiliate
Published April 27, 2016 07:07 AM

Coral Reef Discovered Near Mouth of Amazon River

While currently more than half of the world’s coral reefs are potentially threatened by humans, scientists just made an incredible discovery: a coral reef the size of Delaware flourishing near the mouth of the murky and Amazon River in Brazil.

Coral reefs don’t typically thrive in murky waters, which makes the discovery even more shocking.

The researchers documented their discovery in the journal Science Advances. As reported in the Los Angeles Times, the researches believe the reef stretches approximately 3,700 square miles — larger than the state of Delaware.

The Amazon reef is also home to “beautiful, colorful reef animals,” describes study co-author Patricia Yager, an oceanographer at the University of Georgia, to the Los Angeles Times. Some of these beautiful coral creatures may be newly discovered species, too.

Yager believes that the reefs may serve as “steppingstones between the Brazil reefs and the Caribbean reefs and might serve as a temporary refuge for some of the animals that live between them,” reports the Los Angeles Times. The researchers also hope that the newly discovered Amazon reef can advance our understanding of how coral reefs survive in these unstable times. Worldwide, coral reefs are struggling to combat warming temperatures and increased ocean acidification.

Is the Amazon Reef Safe?

The big question now is: Will the Amazon reef be around long enough for the researchers to study? The Amazon River’s reef isn’t fighting warming temperatures and ocean acidification like other reefs. The threat to the discovered reef ecosystem is big oil — more specifically oil drilling and exploration. Unsustainable fishing activities near the mouth of the Amazon River are also threatening the reef ecosystem.

As the Los Angeles Times reports:

“In the past decade, a total of 80 exploratory blocks have been acquired for oil drilling in the study region, 20 of which are already producing,” the study authors wrote. “These blocks will soon be producing oil in close proximity to the reefs.” The study authors go on to recommend that these oil companies complete “a more social-ecological assessment.”

Continue reading at ENN affiliate, Care2. 

Mouth of Amazon River image via Shutterstock.

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