Brazil’s Oil Plans Cast Shadows Over Newly Found ‘Stunning’ Amazon Reefs
“Currently, up to 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions are caused by tropical deforestation in Brazil and Indonesia, making these countries the largest carbon emitters in the world.
It is estimated that stopping forest destruction could save the same amount of carbon in the next century to halt all fossil fuel emissions for ten years. ”
These are the words of Sylvia Earle, 2009 National Geographic’s oceanographer from her book The World is Blue.
Eight years later, as scientists try to understand the plight of our seas, Brazil has the opportunity to help, but it was a difficult decision.
Nearly 90% of the Great Barrier Reef off the west coast of Australia suffered bleaching, a process in which algae live in symbiosis with coral polyps are expelled.
This happens because the oceans become more acidic water, which is produced because they absorb more atmospheric carbon dioxide.
As a result, polyps are struggling to form their protective structures rich in calcium and become vulnerable to disease. In addition, since polyps get most of their nutrition from their algae partners, they also begin to starve when algae leave.
The Great Barrier Reef is a world treasure, and oceanographers fear that their loss could mean for their rich and invaluable local ecosystem. Now the discovery of a reef system off the coast of Brazil last year offered some hope.
The team that discovered the reef was not looking for corals. Patricia Yager, a team and professor of oceanography and climate change at the University of Georgia, wanted to investigate how the panels of Amazon river reservoirs have affected the ocean’s ability to absorb carbon dioxide.
They decided to embark on an expedition after Rodriguo Moura, a team biologist, suggested the existence of a coral reef based on a 1977 article in the paper.
His findings, published in April 2016, the advances in the science of the newspaper were impressive. Until this discovery, coral reefs were supposed to live in neighboring communities with clean water.
This is because the algae associated with corals are supposed to produce food by photosynthesis, which means they need sunlight wherever they are. However, Amazon’s coral reefs are living in dark waters through sediment deposits transported by the river.
The team identified reef life forms using radiocarbon dating and petrographic characterization. This helps to identify the composition of the mineral substances contained in the base.
To identify microorganisms associated with reefs, the team used metagenomic analysis, a method of collectively analyzing genomes of organisms in an environmental sample.
Yager and co. Found almost 60 species of sponges and 70 large reef fish, and several species of red, green and blue algae.
Because sunlight does not penetrate through reefs and clear water, many species of algae have changed to a process called chemosynthesis.
Energy is generated from chemical reactions of ammonia, nitrogen and sulfur, which algae absorb the environment. These results were so unique that National Geographic called them “one of the most striking discoveries in modern marine research.”
Rebecca Albright, an oceanographer and coral reef expert at the Carnegie Institution in Washington DC, told The Atlantic that finding the site itself was a big problem.
“Traditionally, our understanding of reefs has focused on the tropical and shallow coral reefs that house the biodiversity that rivals the rainforests.
The new Amazon reef system described in this article is another example of a reef that we did not know before. “