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The Green Life: Coral Reefs Discovered Deep in the Atlantic

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July 09, 2008

Coral Reefs Discovered Deep in the Atlantic

Soft_coralJust when you think humans have touched everything on the planet, something like this comes up: Scientists have just found a massive reef system off the southern coast of Bahia, Brazil. (Geography failing you? Check out a map of the region after the jump.)

Although parts of the reef crop up less than 10 miles from shore, this isn't some dinky pile of rocks that failed to spark interest. Rather, it's large enough to double the size of the Abrolhos Bank reef system, which Conservation International describes as "the southern Atlantic Ocean's largest and richest reef system."

At up to 220 feet below sea level, however, the reefs hardly advertise their presence. This inaccessibility, combined with periods of thrashing seas (what researchers call "high turbidity") and relative isolation over millennia has left Abrolhos with ancient strains of soft coral and fish found only in Brazil. So there you go: It ain't just size that counts, but also the motion of the ocean.

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