Greenpeace, an environmentally minded non-government organization, has recently released photos of the newly discovered Amazon Reef in hopes of promoting its protection.
The reef was first stumbled upon in 2012, but its existence was only officially announced in April of 2016 in the journal Science.
With a size 3,600 square miles and depths that range from about 160 to 330 feet, this reef is large enough to be considered its own biome.
The existence of the Amazon Reef has had researchers rethinking the fundamentals of plausible reef locations. Since this reef was located where the Amazon River dumps into the ocean. It is muddled with sediment and runoff from the river, making light scarce which was previously thought to limit aquatic life.
The novel nature of the Amazon Reef has people excited about the possibilities for exotic undiscovered lifeforms and has them anxious to learn more.
Nils Asp, from the Federal University of Para, is a researcher who is trying to map out this new discovery. So far only about 5 percent of the reef has been mapped, meaning research is only just beginning.
Despite how little is known about the reef, there are already concerns about potential oil drilling.
Oil companies, Total and BP, are in the process of seeking approval for exploratory drilling in the area. No timeline has been released in regards to when approval might be gained or denied, but Greenpeace suggests it could happen anytime this year.
By and large, students on campus seem to be unaware of the Amazon Reef, but those hearing about it for the first time expressed environmental concerns.
Dylan Couch, English major, said, “For once the ocean should have precedence over human consumption of oil. It seems like so much is happening with the oceans now, with acidity levels and reefs being destroyed because of climate change or oceanic changes. It’s a no-brainer to protect this very unique and isolated thing because there’s not another thing like it.”
These concerns are not unfounded.
Per the Greenpeace website, underwater oil drilling is especially risky due to the continuous threat of an oil leak which could disrupt many habitats. Additionally, such a spill could not be cleaned to complete satisfaction with current technology.
This threat is greater because of the above average amount of runoff which clouds the water.
Reefs are known for being centers for biodiversity, a feature which promotes resilience to changes in the ecosystem. The health of a reef has significant impacts on surrounding ecosystems, which raises the stakes of this reef’s protection.