The first pictures of a huge coral reef system discovered in the Amazon last year have been released by environmental campaigners. The Amazon Reef is a 9,500 sq km system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths, Greenpeace says.
The reef is almost 1,000 km long, and is located where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean. The reef ranges from about 25-120m deep. Oil drilling could start in the area if companies obtain permits from the Brazilian government, the group warns.
"This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light," researcher Nils Asp, from the Federal University of Para, said in a statement. "It has a huge potential for new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone."
Scientists were surprised by the discovery, in April 2016, as they thought it was unlikely that reefs would be found it the area given unfavourable conditions. Asp now says that his team wants to gradually map the system. At the moment, only 5% of it has been mapped.
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