A giant, undamaged coral reef is discovered near Tahiti
Marine explorers have discovered a "pristine" coral reef 3 km deep at a depth of 30 m off the coast of Tahiti, in French Polynesia.
The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, which led the mission, says the coral is one of the largest ever discovered.
UNESCO Director-General Audrey Azoulay said the discovery expanded knowledge of "what lies below".
French underwater photographer Alexis Rosenfeld said it was "magical to witness giant corals, beautiful that stretched as far as the eye could see, it was like a work of art".
Coral reefs are among the most endangered ocean ecosystems, vulnerable to pollution, rising sea temperatures and changes in chemistry caused by water-soluble carbon dioxide emissions.
Prof. Murray Roberts, a marine scientist from the University of Edinburgh said the discovery made them realize that we still have a lot to learn about the ocean.
"We still associate corals with the shallower tropical seas, but here we find a large system of previously unknown coral reefs.
As shallow waters heat up faster than deeper waters, we see that these deeper rock systems are home to corals in the future. "We have to go there to investigate these special places, to understand their ecological role, and to make sure that we protect them for the future."
There is currently "no evidence" that this rock has been damaged and according to scientists its unusual depth was one of the reasons why it is in a "very good condition".
Corals are generally discovered at shallower depths because algae that live inside coral bodies need light.
The discovery is an important reflection on ocean biodiversity, according to a scientist who participated in the discovery, as 25% of marine species can be found in coral reefs.
The next step is to discover the species that live in this type of reef, which apparently the deeper they are the better protected they are from global warming.