Large Donut-shaped Coral Reef Found in Australia

donut-reef-found-australia

Australia’s famed Great Barrier Reef may be in trouble — but it’s not all bad news coming out of the region.

Scientists have discovered a large doughnut-shaped coral reef in northern Queensland, sitting behind the iconic Great Barrier Reef.

The discovery of a large field of unusual circular mounds was announced Friday by a group of scientists from James Cook University, University of Sydney and Queensland University of Technology, who worked with laser data from the Australian Royal Navy.

Mardi McNeil from Queensland University of Technology and lead author on the new research paper called the discovery “vast.”

“We’ve now mapped over 6,000 square kilometers (about 2,300 square miles),” McNeil said. “That’s three times the previously estimated size, spanning from the Torres Strait to just north of Port Douglas.”

The unique-looking structures are created by a green algae Halimeda bioherms, they said. When the algae dies, it forms white cornflake-like residue of limestone, eventually building up large rings — each 200 to 300 meters (655 to 984 feet) across and up to 10 meters (33 feet) deep at the center.

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SOURCE: CNN, Tiffany Ap