MAY 01, 2016 8:50 PM PDT

Another Amazonian Discovery


A new reef has been discovered within the mouth of the Amazon river where the mighty waters empty into the Caribbean and South Atlantic Ocean, running the length from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranha?o state.

The reef is extraordinary mainly for it’s unusual location. Most frequently coral reefs are characterized to be found in clear, shallow salt waters where sunlight easily reaches the organisms in the ecosystem.
The Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean, creating a plume where freshwater and salt water mix.
The Amazon River, being the second longest in the world but the largest in the amount of water it discharges, collects  water and sediments from an area of over 7 million square kilometers. This results in an extremely muddy outpouring called a plume, which dumps sediments into the ocean and spreads them out to sea for hundreds of miles near the river’s mouth.

Because of this exact phenomenon, scientists notice that there is usually a gap in reef systems between where major rivers meet the ocean.  

However, this is clearly not the case with this particular reef, which has been found to exist from approximately 30-120 meters deep for over 600 miles, making up a 3,600 square mile area in total.

Coral reefs are some of the most biodiverse ecosystems known, rivaled only by tropical rainforests. Although scientists deem that the reef is “relatively impoverished” for such a typical reef system, over 60 species of sponges, 73 species of fish, spiny lobsters, stars and much other reef life have been identified.
 
American and Brazilian researchers collected this sponge sample from the newly discovered reef.
Yet however new to human knowledge this reef is, already we are threatening it. Following a recent paper in Science Advances documenting the investigation of the reef and surrounding areas, the Brazilian government has sold “80 blocks for oil exploration and drilling at the mouth of the Amazon and 20 of these are already producing oil.” There is the concern that some of this drilling is directly situation in the reef.


Sources: CNN, The Guardian, Science Advances
About the Author
  • Kathryn is a curious world-traveller interested in the intersection between nature, culture, history, and people. She has worked for environmental education non-profits and is a Spanish/English interpreter.
You May Also Like
AUG 03, 2021
Technology
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
AUG 03, 2021
Using Snakes to Monitor Nuclear Radiation
Nuclear disasters can be devastating. When these accidents happen, such as Chernobyl in the Ukraine or Fukushima in Japa ...
JUL 25, 2021
Microbiology
When Food is Scarce, Ocean Microbes Cooperate to Gather More
JUL 25, 2021
When Food is Scarce, Ocean Microbes Cooperate to Gather More
Microbes live everywhere, even in the open ocean. They have to compete for survival just like other organisms but even t ...
AUG 22, 2021
Earth & The Environment
Fire Season in the Far North? The Wildfires of Siberia
AUG 22, 2021
Fire Season in the Far North? The Wildfires of Siberia
Fires have spread across over 10 million acres in Siberia
SEP 07, 2021
Earth & The Environment
The Future of Flooding
SEP 07, 2021
The Future of Flooding
In the wake of recent flooding on the east coast as a result of Hurricane Ida, many people are wondering what the future ...
SEP 21, 2021
Plants & Animals
Increasing Production of Aquatic "Blue" Foods Promotes Sustainable Access To Healthier Diets
SEP 21, 2021
Increasing Production of Aquatic "Blue" Foods Promotes Sustainable Access To Healthier Diets
What is a “blue” food? Hint: it doesn’t mean foods that are blue in color.  “Blue” fo ...
OCT 02, 2021
Genetics & Genomics
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
OCT 02, 2021
After Mass Extinction, All Modern Snakes Evolved From Only a Few Survivors
Reporting in Nature Communications, scientists have suggested that every living snake on earth evolved from just a handf ...
Loading Comments...