- By Nathan Mathews
- Main image credits: Green Peace
New and vast Coral Reef discovered in the Amazon
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The first pictures of a huge coral reef system discovered in the Amazon in 2016 have been released by environmental campaigners.
The Amazon Reef is a 9’500 sq km (3’600 sq miles) system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths according to Green Peace.
The reef is almost 1’000 km (620 miles) long, and is located where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean.
Oil drilling could start in the area if companies obtain permits from the Brazilian government, the group warns.
“This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light, and physicochemical water conditions.” researcher Nils Asp, from the Federal University of Para, said in a statement.
“It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone.”
Scientists were surprised by the discovery, in April 2016, as they thought it was unlikely that reefs would be found in the area given it’s unfavourable condition.” according to a paper in the scientific journal Science Advances.
The reef ranges from about 25m – 120m below the surface.
Asp now says that his team wants to gradually map the system. Only 5% of the reef has currently been mapped.
“Our team wants to have a better understanding of how this ecosystem works, including important questions like its photosynthesis mechanisms with very limited light.”
Greenpeace says drilling in the area means a “constant risk of an oil spill”.
Campaigner Thiago Almeira said environmental licensing processes for oil exploration there are already under way.
“The Cape Orange National Park, the northernmost point of the Brazilian state of Amapa, is home to the world’s largest continuous mangrove ecosystem and there is no technology capable of cleaning up oil in a place of its characteristics. In addition, the risks in this area are increased due to the strong currents and sediment that the Amazon River carries.” Green Peace said in a statement to the press.
Green Peace say that so far 95 oil wells have been drilled in the region, 27 of them were abandoned as a result of mechanical incidents, the rest due to the absence of economically or technically viable gas and oil.
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