The new discovery of a massive coral reef in the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park in Australia has inspired marine scientists to find out if this new reef system could rival the natural underwater beauty of the Great Barrier Reef.
Researchers from Parks Victoria started their exploration of the Wilsons Promontory coral reef through the use of a device known as Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV), which is capable of reaching 328 feet below the sea.
Cameras on board the ROV were able to capture video footage of vibrant corals, sponge gardens in different colors and various species of exotic fish as the marine vehicle swam into deeper and uncharted territory.
Steffan Howe, marine science manager at Parks Victoria, said that while the Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park is popularly known for its beautiful landscapes, its underwater world remained largely unexplored. He said that it is now possible to see the park's beauty beneath the sea through the help of state-of-the-art technology such as the ROV.
Using the Remotely Operated Vehicle, researchers have recorded different marine life in underwater habitats as deep as 30 to 100 meters (98 to 328 feet) below the sea.
Howe explained that these discoveries follow earlier studies that surveyed the sea floor of the marine park in detail. These studies identified various underwater structures located deep beneath the ocean, but they were not able to determine the type of marine life present in the water.
He said that the recent expeditions using the ROV have provided them with the first images of marine ecosystems that can be found in deeper areas of the national park, many of which are comparable to other well-known tropical reefs in Australia.
Other highlights of the recent ROV expeditions include images of house-sized boulders, extensive walls and caverns with a wide range of soft and hard corals as well as colorful sponges.
The Parks Victoria researchers also spotted 90-meter (295-feet) deep holes that house large schools of sea perch. These deep sea fish can grow up to 31 and half inches in length.
They also observed a complex system of underwater dunes include one that is around 30 meters (98.5 feet) high and two kilometers (1.4 miles) long.
The scientists also identified several other species of fish in the reef explorations such as the Longsnout Boarfish (Pentaceropsis recurvirostris) and the Australian barracuda (Sphyraena novaehollandiae). These fish are considered to be significant to conservation efforts of the government.