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Vast Coral Found in Great Barrier Reef

Updated: Sep 15, 2021

Snorkelers discover an enormous, ancient coral while swimming off the coast of Goolboodi Island.

While snorkeling in a rarely explored area of the Great Barrier Reef a group of explorers chanced upon a coral measuring 17.4 feet (5.3m) tall and 34.1 feet (10.4m) wide. That's roughly the size of a double-decker bus and has instantly become the widest single coral structure in the Reef (and the sixth tallest).

Perhaps most impressive, this particular coral is believed to be between 421 and 438 years old. This puts it close in age to the reef’s oldest documented coral which is 436 years old.

The coral belongs to the Porites genus and, after consulting the Indigenous Manbarra people, has now been officially named Muga dhambi, meaning “big coral.”

Often brown and cream in colour, Porites corals grow to large sizes by secreting layers of calcium carbonate beneath their bodies as they grow to form the foundation of coral reefs. About 70 percent of their structure is living while the remainder is made up of green boring sponge, turf algae, and green algae.

Muga dhambi is clearly a survivor, having withstood upwards of 80 major cyclones over the years. This hardy coral has managed to stay safe from invasive species, coral bleaching episodes (the scientists found no evidence of bleaching), low tides, poor water quality, and human threats - offering a positive glimmer of hope for the Great Barrier Reef.


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