bioherms_blighreef.jpg__800x600_q85_crop, Australia coral reef, , Great Barrier Reef, Marine conservation areaMysterious Structures in Deeper Waters

In Australia, scientists finally figured out the nature of giant geologic structures in the deeper waters off the Great Barrier Reef. While it’s been known for decades that there was something below the existing Great Barrier Reef, it wasn’t until Royal Navy aircraft used high resolution lasar imaging technology called “LiDAR” to map the seafloor that they discovered giant doughnut-shaped mounds.

Stretching Over 2000 Square Miles

These strange geological structures cover some 2000 square miles from the Torres Strait in the northern Great Barrier Reef to Queensland’s Port Douglas area.


Helping Scientists to Better Understand the Great Barrier Reef Ecosystem

Although a calcifying organism, this reef is not made of coral but of a unique type of green algae: Halimeda incorporates calcium carbonate into their tissue, much like coral and other shell-building organisms. When Halimeda die the calcified algae turn into limestone flakes that quickly form huge underwater structures called “bioherms”. These bioherms are of unique interest to scientists because they are directly impacted by sea warming and ocean acidification. Scientists hope to gain a better understanding of the Great Barrier Reef ecosystem now that they know this is a new piece of the puzzle.

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Also see the Blue Ocean post:: Re-breathers and Submersibles work side by side to reveal Hawaii’s Hidden Reefs. Plus see our recent and related story on Richard Pyle, a pioneer in developing re-breather technology and the discoveries that this technology has allowed Richard to make in the Twilight Zone. See: Richard Pyle Explores Mysterious, Deep Coral Reefs