Scientists have discovered a “massive” detached coral reef in Australia’s Great Barrier Reef — the first of its kind in over 120 years.
And, at approximately 1,640 feet, it’s taller than the Willis Tower, Chicago’s tallest building at 1,450 feet.
The reef was found by a team conducting a year-long underwater mapping of the region’s seafloor, according to the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The institute’s underwater robot, dubbed “SuBastian,” explored the reef in a dive that was livestreamed on its website.
“We are surprised and elated by what we have found,” said Robin Beaman of James Cook University, the group’s leader. “To not only 3D-map the reef in detail but also visually see this discovery with SuBastian is incredible.”
The new reef is blade-like. Rising from an almost one-mile-wide base, its peak sits about 130 feet below the ocean’s surface.
The discovery adds to seven other detached reefs in the area, including the reef at Raine Island, which is the world’s largest nesting area for green sea turtles.
Beaman’s team will continue its expedition of the ocean surrounding Australia until Nov. 17. The maps will become available on a national Australian seabed mapping program called AusSeabed.
“This unexpected discovery affirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of Schmidt Ocean Institute. “The state of our knowledge about what’s in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we have the capacity to explore like never before. New oceanscapes are opening to us, revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us.”
Read more at USA Today.