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Coral Reef 900 Meters Down Discovered Off Southern Greenland

The Greenland reef grows in complete darkness in strong currents.

January 28, 2014

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Coral reefs off the coast of Greenland? Absolutely, as Canadian researchers with the Bedford Institute of Oceanography inadvertently came across a cold water coral reef off the coast of southern Greenland. The researchers were in the area taking water samples when a measuring device they sent down 900 meters came back smashed and with several pieces of coral stuck to the equipment. The researchers at first were upset that the test equipment was smashed but then realized that they came across a coral reef 900 meters down, which was probably more valuable than any water samples on that day.

cold water reef off Greenland
This coral got stuck on water testing equipment that was sent 900 meters down off Greenland. Photo courtesy Bedford Institute of Oceanography

"At first the researchers were swearing and cursing at the smashed equipment and were just about to throw the pieces of coral back into the sea, when luckily they realized what they were holding,"  Ph.D student Helle Jørgensbye, DTU Aqua, said in a press release. Jørgensbye does research into life at the bottom of west Greenland waters.

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Not much is known about the reef other than the fact that it is located 900 meters down in complete darkness in an area that has very strong currents. While cold water coral reefs are known to exist in Norway and Iceland, the known presence of these organisms in Greenland is new. There is more research to be done on the reef, including determining how old it is and how tall it stands on the continental shelf.


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