Off the back of the last post, here is an interesting article from the Washington Post on the discovery of deep sea reefs in Hawaii. Deep reefs (‘mesophotic’ coral reefs) exist at the edge of the photic zone (upto 150m depth) and are still dependent on light. These are fascinating ecosystems that to date have been poorly studied:
“We were seeing reefs that no human has ever laid eyes on before,” Randall Kosaki, the research mission’s lead scientist and diver, said Tuesday. “We literally have better maps of the moon than we do of coral reefs in the Hawaiian archipelago.”
Between the area where scuba divers and submersible vehicles have traveled is a “twilight zone” that has long been unexplored, he said. It includes large swaths of coral reefs that can grow up to 400 feet underwater.“The coral reef habitat goes four times deeper than where we’ve been working prior to this,” Kosaki told reporters.
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As a footnote: one of my PhD students, Pim Bongaerts runs an online resource for deep sea coral reefs over at www.mesophotic.org which has some amazing photographs and video footage of research on deep reefs – see here for news and updates.