The muddy waters of the mouth of the Amazon River may not be your first thought when it comes to a coral reef system, but it should be.
Scientists, after having an idea that there might be something massive lurking beneath the surface where the Amazon River meets the sea, have finally confirmed their suspicions. What they found is a massive 3,600-square mile coral reef that is larger than the state of Delaware.
The discovery is completely different from any other coral reef on the planet for a few reasons. Not only is the muddy environment produced from the Amazon River meeting the sea rare for coral reefs to grow, but there is also hardly any light escaping this muddy plume.
However, the researchers published their findings in Scientific Advances and found that the coral reef system begins below the mud in the fresh water. In the reef system, also, the team found about “73 fish species, 35 algae, 26 soft corals, 12 stony corals and more.” Additionally, about 29 specimens are unidentifiable and constitute new species.
This system is an entirely new biome on our planet, and the researchers deem that it warrants a special kind of protection. As of now, only about 10 percent of the system is mapped and there are over 3,200 square miles left to go.