Scientists have discovered extensive, ancient deep-sea coral reefs in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. The reefs are found at a depth of 400-600 meters.
Observations using the newly upgraded human-occupied vehicle Alvin are the first of a deep-sea coral reef in the Galápagos Marine Reserve. The reef, found at 400-600 meters (1,310-1,970 feet) depth at the summit of a previously unmapped seamount in the central part of the archipelago, supports a breathtaking mix of deep marine life, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution writes.
Alvin (DSV-2) is a crewed deep-ocean research submersible owned by the United States Navy and operated by the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.
Cresting the ridge of an unmapped submerged volcano, and stretching over several kilometres, the impressive reef structure was first recorded by Dr. Michelle Taylor (University of Essex, UK) and Dr. Stuart Banks (Charles Darwin Foundation, Ecuador) while diving in Alvin.
Commenting on this groundbreaking discovery, the Minister of Environment of Ecuador, Jose Antonio Dávalos said: "This is encouraging news. It reaffirms our determination to establish new marine protected areas in Ecuador and to continue promoting the creation of a regional marine protected area in the Eastern Tropical Pacific. The richness of the yet-explored depths of our ocean is another reason to strive towards achieving the commitments of the Global Ocean Alliance 30x30, which aims to protect at least 30% of the world's oceans by 2030, aligning sustainable economic activities with conservation."