Corals in front of the cameras of the remote-controlled underwater vehicle of the "Falkor"
Photo: Youtube / Schmidt Ocean Institute
The tallest building in Europe is the Ostankino TV tower in Moscow.
It measures around 540 meters - and an apparently unknown coral reef that researchers claim to have discovered in the ocean off Australia is just a little smaller.
This is reported by the Schmidt Ocean Institute Foundation, whose research ship "Falkor" is currently underway in the Barrier Reef region.
The ship navigates the waters off the remote Cape York Peninsula in the north of the Australian state of Queensland.
Scientists on board discovered the reef there a week ago and explored it with a remote-controlled vehicle on a live broadcast on the Internet on Sunday, it said.
The coral reef is 1.5 kilometers wide at its base and 40 meters below the sea surface at its top.
According to the foundation, seven free-standing coral reefs had been discovered and measured in the region since the late 18th century.
The current discovery is the first of its kind in 120 years.
The Great Barrier Reef is the largest reef in the world and extends over an area of more than 344,000 square kilometers - making it larger than Italy.
It is particularly endangered by climate change.
There are regular reports of massive coral bleaching.
Only recently, a study came to the conclusion that the huge reef system lost around half of its corals within a good two decades.
During coral bleaching, the corals stressed by high water temperatures repel single-cell organisms living in symbiosis with them.
This can lead to the coral dying off.
The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change has warned that 90 percent of all corals in the world could die if global temperatures rise by even 1.5 degrees compared to pre-industrial times.
"Eyes, ears and hands in the depths of the sea"
So it's all the more gratifying when there is good news from the reefs: "This unexpected discovery confirms that we are still finding unknown structures and new species in our oceans," says Wendy Schmidt, co-founder of the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
"Our knowledge of what is in the ocean has long been so limited. Thanks to new technologies that act as our eyes, ears and hands in the depths of the ocean, we have the ability to explore like never before."
Schmidt founded her foundation eleven years ago together with her husband Eric.
For many years he was the head of Google and the parent company Alphabet.
He is no longer part of the company.
Contrary to what the name might suggest, the Schmidt Ocean Institute has no scientists of its own.
Instead, the foundation operates the "Falkor".
With their projects, researchers can apply to use the ship and its equipment.
There is space for up to 22 scientists in ten cabins on the ship.
The almost 83 meters long "Falkor" was in her first life under the name "Seefalke" as a fishing protection boat for Germany in the North and Baltic Seas and the North Atlantic.
After it was decommissioned and sold, the new owners had it converted at a shipyard in Schleswig-Holstein.
Icon: The mirror
chs / dpa