When one thinks of a large, underwater coral reef, they automatically think of the Great Barrier Reef, off the east coast of Australia, where the world’s largest barrier reef is situated. But just recently, a large coral reef has been discovered at the mouth of the Amazon River in Brazil!
Apart from the simple fact that such a huge natural phenomenon could go undetected until now, there is also the amazement that such an eco-system can even exist at the confluence of the Amazon River, where fresh water mixes with ocean salt water. Normally, a river would cause a break in any existing coral reef formation due to the “clash” of two different types of waters, but in this case, the reef both developed and continues to exist with no observable issues!
The reef “came to light” (in fact the reef seems to survive and flourish despite the lack of light due to the silt carried by the river into the ocean) when a research team was trying to learn more about Amazon River plumes. Plumes are where the river’s fresh water mixes with the ocean’s salt water, the exact environment in which this type of reef was thought impossible to grow.
The reef system has been measured at approximately 3,600 square miles / 5,794 square kilometres, running from French Guiana to Brazil’s Maranhao state. It is south of Belem, gateway to the Amazon River, and north of Fortaleza – a traveller’s paradise of white beaches and Brazilian sun.
Sadly, this new reef, like the Great Barrier Reef, is in danger of damage at a minimum and destruction at the worst, as the impact of industry and global climate change continues to take its toll.
While not an area of water sports and sightseeing, like the Great Barrier Reef in Australia, this new “Amazon Barrier Reef” is another example of how Mother Nature, can, to this day, still astound us with her creations, and that there are always new things still to be discovered!