Move over Great Barrier Reef, Australia has new hidden treasures

25 Aug 2015

A new robot-led discovery “comparable” to the Great Barrier Reef has revealed an abundance of sea life off the south coast of Australia.

A bunch of robots were sent into the depths of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park and revealed some unusual and spectacular sea life, like sponge gardens, corals and loads of fish.

Off the state of Victoria, to the south of Australia – the Great Barrier Reef is in the north-east of the country – an abundance of colourful discoveries were made by remotely-operated vehicles (ROVs) between 30-100 metres below the surface.

Both hard and soft corals were found, along with 90m-deep holes full of deep sea perch, dunes reaching 2km in range and important fish such as the Australian barracuda and the longsnout boarfish.

Comparable to Great Barrier Reef

“The deep reef habitats are teeming with life and are home to rich and abundant marine ecosystems that are comparable to Australia’s better-known tropical reef areas,” said Steffan Howe, science manager at Parks Victoria Marine.

“The extent and abundance of spectacular sponge gardens and corals is a particularly exciting find.”

There have been a number of major sea discoveries this summer. Back in June, researchers discovered a colourful array of coral in the depths of the Red Sea, with the surprising glow bringing about some stunning imagery, and indicating potential medicinal ingredients.

Depth perception

The significance then, and now, is the lack of light below 50m, making colourful discoveries quite surprising.

That same week Ireland scored its first reef. A team of Irish marine scientists made the rather amazing discovery 300km off the coast of Kerry of a bed of cold-water coral just 700m below the surface of the Atlantic Ocean.

Describing its find as “spectacular”, the team came across several 20-30m wide carbonate coral mounds in the area referred to as the Moira Mounds.

Reef image, via Shutterstock

Gordon Hunt was a journalist with Silicon Republic