The Audacity of Life: The Amazonian Reef
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The Audacity of Life: The Amazonian Reef

Life thrives in the dark, polluted waters at the mouth of the Amazon river.

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The Audacity of Life: The Amazonian Reef
The University of Georgia

The Amazon river, one of the most polluted rivers in the world, is not the first location to pop into one’s head when asked about lively and healthy coral reefs. Yet according to an article published in the journal Science, on April 22, 2016, the mouth of the Amazon is home to what is possibly one of the largest coral reefs on the planet.

According to the article, Patricia Yager of the University of Georgia, and Fabiano Thompson of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro discovered the reef in 2012 while on an expedition. Estimated at 600 miles in length, the reef is said to cover a possible acreage of over 3,600 square miles of ocean floor.

The find is especially astonishing to oceanographers because of the presence of harsh toxins and salinity, as well as the low light and oxygen levels in the goopy, muddy Amazonian waters. How did such a reef survive and thrive in such harsh conditions? Scientists are working hard to find an answer.

One thing is for sure, that the life found in and around the reef has adapted incredibly to the environment around the mouth of the Amazon. According to the study, the reef is home to a plethora of sea life, ranging from carnivorous fish to sponges, rhodoliths and gorgonians.

It is the hope of many that the discovery may lead to a way to adapt and create reefs around the world that will consume pollution in our oceans and rivers. Whether that comes to pass or not, this discovery demonstrates well the audacity of life in the face of adversity.

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