Ancient coral reefs have been discovered in waters off Ecuador’s Galapagos Islands, in a region left devastated by freak weather conditions four decades ago.
The 1982-83 El Niño event was thought to have virtually wiped out reefs around Galapagos, with Wellington reef off the coast of Darwin Island thought to be among the few surviving remnants. However, scientists have now discovered extensive reefs in the middle of the archipelago, bringing hope that others may have survived.
Marine biologist Dr Michelle Taylor from the University of Essex in England was part of the team that found the reefs, the first discovered in the Galapagos Marine Reserve since its creation in 1998.
“They are pristine and teeming with life – pink octopus, batfish, squat lobsters and an array of deep-sea fish, sharks, and rays,” she said. “These newly discovered reefs are potentially of global significance – sites which we can monitor over time to see how pristine habitats evolve with our current climate crisis.”
Image: Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution