Friday, January 31, 2014

Covert coral

A Canadian research vessel off Cape Desolation south of Ivittuut, Greenland, sent instruments down to a depth of 3,000' (900m) to collect water samples. When they pulled them back up, the instruments were destroyed, but on them were a few broken coral branches. Thus was discovered for the first time a coral reef in Greenland. Scientists had long known of ancient reefs in Norway and Iceland, and knew the currents were swift enough and the cold temperatures of the water were "warm" enough for coral to thrive in Iceland. But it took this happy accident – although the researchers were not happy about the smashed equipment at the time – to make the find. Another Canadian research vessel returned to the site last fall, but apparently the reef does not want to be studied. The image above is one of the few photographs they managed to take when they lowered a camera down onto the reef to explore it more closely. Doctoral student Helle Jørgensbye of Denmark's DTU Aqua describes, "We got some photos eventually, although we almost lost them at the bottom of the ocean as the camera got stuck fast somewhere down in the depths. Luckily we managed to get it loose again and back up to the surface."

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