Giant pristine coral reef discovered off Tahiti

By Victoria Gill
Science correspondent.

The image is from Alexis Rosenfeld.

There is an image caption.

The giant reef was described as "magical" by a specialist underwater photographer.

There is a coral reef at a depth of 100 feet off the coast of French Polynesia.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization said it was one of the largest discoveries at that depth.

Dr Barbiere said there were probably many more of these.

He said that they should be working to map them and protect them.

The discovery extended our knowledge of what lies beneath, according to the director general of Unesco.

The reef was found during a diving expedition to a depth known as the ocean's "twilight zone".

The image is from Alexis Rosenfeld.

The photographer from France said it was "magical to see giant, beautiful rose corals stretching as far as the eye can see".

He said it was like a work of art.

The image is from Alexis Rosenfeld.

There is an image caption.

A researcher takes a small sample.

Coral reefs are vulnerable to pollution, rising sea temperatures and the change in chemistry caused by carbon-dioxide emissions.

Prof Murray Roberts, a leading marine scientist from the University of Edinburgh, said the discovery brought home how much we still have to learn about the ocean.

We still associate corals with the shallowest tropical seas, but here we find a huge previously unknown coral reef system.

As shallow waters warm faster than the deeper waters, we may find these deeper reef systems are refuges for corals in the future. We need to map these special places, understand their ecological role and make sure we protect them for the future.

Dr Barbiere said that there was no evidence that the reef had been damaged by those pressures and that it was still in a very good state.

He told the news that they find them at shallow depths because the algae that lives within the bodies of corals needs light.

The caption is media.

Hear the underwater sounds of marine life at a restored reef in Indonesia.

The ocean here is less polluted because it's in a part of the ocean that's further from land.

Dr Barbiere said the discovery provided an important insight into ocean biodiversity.

He said that 25% of marine species can be found in coral reefs.

The image is from Alexis Rosenfeld.

There is an image caption.

There is still light in the ocean and it is helping the reef to survive.

The next step is to find what species live around this type of reef.

There will be further investigation in the coming months.

Dr Laetitia Hedouin from France's National Centre of Scientific Research said that a reef like this would take 25 years to grow and develop.
Deeper reefs may be better protected from global warming.

The discovery of a reef in such a good condition is good news.

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