(CNN) – In Australia’s Great Barrier Reef, a “massive” new reef has been discovered 500 meters long, taller than some of the tallest skyscrapers in the world.Scientists found the freestanding reef, which was the first to be discovered in more than 120 years, in waters off north Queensland on an expedition aboard the research vessel Falkor, the marine research organization Schmidt Ocean Institute announced on Monday.
The reef was first discovered on October 20 when scientists were performing an underwater mapping of the seabed of the northern Great Barrier Reef.
At 500 meters tall, it is taller than the Empire State Building (381 meters to the top floor), the Sydney Tower (305 meters), and the Petronas Twin Towers (451.9 meters).
Using an underwater robot named SuBastian, the team explored the reef on Sunday and broadcast live streams of the exploration.
Experts say the base of the “blade-like” reef is 1.5 kilometers wide and rises 500 meters to its shallowest depth of 40 meters below the sea surface.
The newly discovered freestanding reef is one of several in the Great Barrier Reef and the first to be discovered in 120 years.
Schmidt Ocean Institute
Robin Beaman, who led the expedition, said he was “surprised” by the discovery.
“It is incredible not only to be able to map the reef in detail in 3D, but also to see this discovery with SuBastian visually,” he said in a statement.
“This unexpected discovery confirms that we continue to find unknown structures and new species in our ocean,” said Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute, in a statement.
“Our knowledge of what is in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that act like our eyes, ears and hands in the deep ocean, we are exploring like never before. New ocean landscapes are opening up to us and revealing the ecosystems and diverse life forms that share the planet with us. “
The Great Barrier Reef, the largest coral reef in the world, covers an area of nearly 133,000 square kilometers and is home to more than 1,500 species of fish, 411 types of hard corals, and dozens of other species.
However, the reef is facing a crisis. Recent studies have shown it has lost 50% of its coral populations over the past three decades, with climate change being a major driver of reef disruption.