Quantcast

Amazing Underwater Photos Reveal Newly Discovered Brazilian Coral Reef

Energy
Greenpeace

Greenpeace Brazil has captured the first underwater images of the Amazon Reef, a 9,500 km2 system of corals, sponges and rhodoliths located where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic Ocean—an area that the Brazilian government has opened for oil exploration.


A team of experts, including several oceanographers who announced the discovery of the reef last year, have joined the Greenpeace ship Esperanza on an expedition to document this new biome, which runs from French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhão, an area larger than the cities of São Paulo or London. Oil companies Total and BP could start drilling in this area if they obtain authorization from the Brazilian government.

The team was searching in a submarine launched from the Esperanza at 220 meters depth, more than 100 kilometers off the Brazilian coast, when the reef came into view for the first time.

"This reef system is important for many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics regarding use and availability of light and physicochemical water conditions. 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," said Nils Asp, researcher at the Federal University of Pará.

Greenpeace

"Our team wants to have a better understanding of how this ecosystem works, including important questions like its photosynthesis mechanisms with very limited light. Hopefully, this will lead to a gradual mapping of the reef system. At the moment, less than 5 percent of the ecosystem is mapped." continued Asp.

While experts have just started to study the reef and its implications, oil companies Total and BP are already planning to explore the area for potential oil drilling. It is estimated that reserves are approximately 15 to 20 billion barrels.

"We must defend the reef and the entire region at the mouth of the Amazon River basin from the corporate greed that puts profits ahead of the environment. One of Total's oil blocks is only eight kilometers from the reef and environmental licensing processes are already under way," said Thiago Almeida, campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil.

"After ratifying the Paris agreement, Brazilian President Michel Temer declared that the climate issue is an obligation for all governments. If Brazil's commitment is serious, we must prevent the exploration of oil in the region and keep fossil fuels in the ground to avoid climate catastrophe," Almeida continued.

Greenpeace

Drilling in this area would mean a constant risk of an oil spill. The Cape Orange National Park, the northernmost point of the Brazilian state of Amapá, is home to the world's largest continuous mangrove ecosystem and there is no technology capable of cleaning up oil in a location with its characteristics. In addition, the risks in this area are increased due to the strong currents and sediment that the Amazon River carries. So far, 95 wells have been drilled in the region, 27 of which were abandoned as a result of mechanical incidents—the rest due to the absence of economically or technically viable gas and oil.

American Manatee (Trichechus Manatu) in the Amazon.Greenpeace

The mouth of the Amazon River basin is home to the American manatee, the Amazon River's yellow tortoise, dolphins and the river otter—an endangered species according to the International Union for Conservation of Nature. It is also home to communities of local fishermen and more than 80 Quilombola communities that rely economically on the area.

EcoWatch Daily Newsletter

An Exxon station in Florida remains open despite losing its roof during Hurricane Katrina on Aug. 29, 2005. Florida Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Shaun Withers

The country's largest fossil fuel company goes on trial today to face charges that it lied to investors about the safety of its assets in the face of the climate crisis and potential legislation to fight it, as the AP reported.

Read More Show Less
El Niño's effect on Antarctica is seen in a tabular iceberg off of Thwaites ice shelf. Jeremy Harbeck / NASA

El Niños are getting stronger due to climate change, according to a new study in Monday's Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored

By Julia Ries

  • Antibiotic resistance has doubled in the last 20 years.
  • Additionally a new study found one patient developed resistance to a last resort antibiotic in a matter of weeks.
  • Health experts say antibiotic prescriptions should only be given when absolutely necessary in order to avoid growing resistance.

Over the past decade, antibiotic resistance has emerged as one of the greatest public health threats.

Read More Show Less
Pexels


There are hundreds of millions of acres of public land in the U.S., but not everyone has had the chance to hike in a national forest or picnic in a state park.

Read More Show Less
Workers attend to a rooftop solar panel project on May 14, 2017 in Wuhan, China. Kevin Frayer / Getty Images

By Simon Evans

Renewable sources of electricity are set for rapid growth over the next five years, which could see them match the output of the world's coal-fired power stations for the first time ever.

Read More Show Less
Sponsored
Firefighters work during a wildfire threatening nearby hillside homes in the Pacific Palisades neighborhood on Oct. 21 in Los Angeles. The fire scorched at least 30 acres and prompted mandatory evacuations. Mario Tama / Getty Images

A wildfire that broke out Monday near Los Angeles' wealthy Pacific Palisades area threatened around 200 homes and injured two people, CNN reported.

Read More Show Less
Justin Trudeau gives a speech following a victory in his Quebec riding of Papineau on Oct. 22. CBC News / YouTube screenshot

Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau will remain in office after a federal election Monday in which the climate crisis played a larger role than ever before.

Read More Show Less
Mike Mozart / Flicker / CC BY 2.0

Pharmaceutical giant Johnson & Johnson recalled 33,000 bottles of baby powder on Friday after the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) found trace amounts of asbestos in one of its bottles.

Read More Show Less