Coral Reef Discovered By Scientists In Cape York Larger Than The Empire State Building

Alex Waite

Scientists have found a giant, detached coral reef near the northern end of the Great Barrier Reef, Australia, that measures nearly 550 yards in height.

According to The Guardian, the long stretch of coral is taller than the Empire State Building and was discovered nearly 80 miles off the northern tip of Queensland, Australia.

The underwater ledge was discovered as a ship from the California-based non-profit Schmidt Ocean Institute conducted a 3D mapping exercise using an underwater robot to find out more about life on the seabed in the region.

The reef is believed to measure one mile in width, and the "blade-like" structure reaches as high as 43 yards below the sea's surface. It is the first of its kind to be discovered since the late 19th century when similar formations were found in the same stretch of water.

Tom Bridge, a scientist from the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies at James Cook University, said the discovery is one of a kind and shows how little information we still have about underwater ridges like this.

"It's a big reef not to have known about. What it highlights is how little we know about a lot of the ocean, even the Great Barrier Reef. The marine park is 344,000 square kilometers – bigger than many European countries – and only about 6 or 7% of that is typical shallow-water reefs. We know more about the surface of the moon than we know about what lies in the depths beyond our coastlines," he said.

The crew continues to learn about the giant bank and found it is home to an abundance of life, as the waterproof robot captured footage of fish, sharks, sponges and sea fans all inhabiting the stretch of coral, suggesting it is a good source of nutrients carried by strong currents in deep water.

This new revelation is not part of the Great Barrier Reef but is anchored to the continental shelf on the ocean floor.

Expedition leader Rob Beaman was delighted with the discovery and highlighted how the 3D mapping robot, SuBastian, played a key part in finding the previously undiscovered coral reef.

"To not only map the reef in 3D detail but to also see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible," Beaman explained.

The Inquisitr has previously reported on groundbreaking scientific revelations after NASA's SOFIA aircraft located water traps on the surface of the moon that highlighted how a liquid could be distributed further on the moon.