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January 5, 2005

Deepest U.S. reef ever

BY: Gwen

To continue with good news to begin this New Year, the U.S. Geological Survey announced, on Dec. 23, that marine researchers have made a significant discovery that may be unique: the deepest photosynthetic coral reef. It lies 250 feet deep on a submerged barrier-island named Pulley Ridge off the coast of southwest Florida and is allegedly the deepest ever found in the U.S. waters.

“We were all blown away by this bizarre, flat, living sea floor covered with blue and brown corals and lettuce-like green algae,” researcher Bret Jarrett said of seeing live video from an unmanned submersible.

Do you want to see pictures? Just click on the Pulley Ridge link to reveal them and… be blown away too!

And now that the word is out, well, officials are concerned and want to protect and preserve the reef. The Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council will decide soon whether to restrict fishing or trawling in the area based on the scientists’ research.

“Pulley Ridge is an area of particular environmental concern due to its unusual benthic community and fragile nature–living corals are easily disturbed. Activity such as removal of live-bottom materials for fish tanks would be particularly harmful,” said Albert Hine, Professor and Associate Dean of Research in the College of Marine Science at USF.