Amazon Reef photographed for the first time

by    DiveSSI    6th February 2017
Images of the Amazon Reef taken from a submarine launched from the MY Esperanza. The Greenpeace ship is currently in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the “Defend the Amazon Reef” campaign. 
A team of experts are onboard, including the scientist from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Fabiano Thompson and Kenneth Jozeph Lowick, from Greenpeace Belgium. Thompson led the group of scientists who discovered the coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Imagens captadas do submarino dos Corais da Amazônia. Neste sábado, 28 de janeiro, o submarino foi lançado do navio Esperanza com o cientista da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Fabiano Thompson e Kenneth Jozeph Lowick, do Greenpeace da Bégica. Thompson liderou o grupo de cientistas que descobriu o recife de corais na foz do rio Amazonas. O lançamento do submarino envolveu grande parte da tripulação do navio.
Esperanza, um dos três navios do Greenpeace, está na região da foz do rio Amazonas, no Amapá, para a campanha “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia. O objetivo é observar debaixo d’água, pela primeira vez, os recifes de corais.
Amazon Reef photographed for the first time (c) Greenpeace
Images of the Amazon Reef taken from a submarine launched from the MY Esperanza. The Greenpeace ship is currently in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the “Defend the Amazon Reef” campaign. 
A team of experts are onboard, including the scientist from the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro, Fabiano Thompson and Kenneth Jozeph Lowick, from Greenpeace Belgium. Thompson led the group of scientists who discovered the coral reef at the mouth of the Amazon River.
Imagens captadas do submarino dos Corais da Amazônia. Neste sábado, 28 de janeiro, o submarino foi lançado do navio Esperanza com o cientista da Universidade Federal do Rio de Janeiro Fabiano Thompson e Kenneth Jozeph Lowick, do Greenpeace da Bégica. Thompson liderou o grupo de cientistas que descobriu o recife de corais na foz do rio Amazonas. O lançamento do submarino envolveu grande parte da tripulação do navio.
Esperanza, um dos três navios do Greenpeace, está na região da foz do rio Amazonas, no Amapá, para a campanha “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia. O objetivo é observar debaixo d’água, pela primeira vez, os recifes de corais.
Amazon Reef photographed for the first time (c) Greenpeace
Reefs made by fused rhodoliths, with brittle stars.
Esperanza, one of the three Greenpeace vessels, is in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the campaign “Defend the Amazon Reef”.
Recife mancha, formado por rodolitos fusionados, com lírios-do-mar. No centro, há uma esponja.
Esperanza, um dos três navios do Greenpeace, está na região da foz do rio Amazonas, no Amapá, para a campanha “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia. O objetivo é observar debaixo d’água, pela primeira vez, os recifes de corais.
Amazon Reef photographed for the first time (c) Greenpeace
White sea urchins and rhodoliths. White urchins often use fragments of other organisms to hide and to defend themselves from predators. 
Esperanza, one of the three Greenpeace vessels, is in the region of the Amazon river mouth, Amapá State, for the campaign “Defend the Amazon Reef”.
Conjunto de ouriços brancos e rodolitos. Os ouriços brancos costumam usar fragmentos de outros organismos para se esconder e, assim, se defender de predadores.
Esperanza, um dos três navios do Greenpeace, está na região da foz do rio Amazonas, no Amapá, para a campanha “Defenda os Corais da Amazônia. O objetivo é observar debaixo d’água, pela primeira vez, os recifes de corais.
Amazon Reef photographed for the first time (c) Greenpeace
2017_02_04_Amazonasriff_5
Amazon Reef photographed for the first time (c) NOAA

Greenpeace explores the newly discovered reef

Off the Brazilian coast, where the Amazon River meets the Atlantic
Ocean, researchers discovered a unique ecosystem. Beneath the waves lie
a vast coral reef, spanning more than 9,500 square kilometres.

Greenpeace Brazil has captured the first underwater photographs of the
Amazon Reef.

Travelling on board the Esperanza,
a team of experts are exploring the gigantic reef, which stretches from
French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhão.

Some of the
oceanographers who had discovered the reef in 2016 (as we had reported here) are part of the team.

Searching in a submarine launched from the Esperanza, the team was at a
depth of 220 metres when the reef came into view, more than 100
kilometres from the Brazilian coast.

“This reef system is important for
many reasons, including the fact that it has unique characteristics
regarding use and availability of light. It has a huge potential for
new species, and it is also important for the economic well-being of
fishing communities along the Amazonian coastal zone,” said Nils Asp, a researcher at the Federal University of Pará in Belém, Brazil.

“Our team wants to have a better
understanding of how this ecosystem works, including important
questions like its photosynthesis mechanisms with very limited light.
Hopefully, this will lead to a gradual mapping of the reef system. At
the moment, less than five percent of the ecosystem is mapped,” said Asp.

As experts study the reef, oil companies Total and BP are gearing up to
explore the area for potential oil drilling sites. Once the Brazilian
government grant them the permission, these oil companies can start
drilling for oil in this area.

The oil reserves are estimated to be
approximately 15 to 20 billion barrels.

“We must defend the reef and the
entire region at the mouth of the Amazon river basin from the corporate
greed that puts profits ahead of the environment. One of Total's oil
blocks is only eight kilometres from the reef, and environmental
licensing processes are already underway,” said Thiago Almeida, a campaigner at Greenpeace Brazil.

Drilling in this area means there is a constant risk of an oil spill.
The Cape Orange National Park, the northernmost point of the Brazilian
state of Amapá, houses the world's largest continuous mangrove
ecosystem. Should there be any oil pollution in the area, our current
level of technology is incapable of cleaning up the damage.

The risks
that exist in this area are increased by the strong currents and
sediment that run through the Amazon. To date, 95 wells have been
drilled in the region, and all have been abandoned; 27 due to
mechanical disturbances, with the rest due to their lack of economic
relevance.

The Amazon Basin is a habitat for manatees, the Amazon's yellow
tortoise, dolphins and endangered river otters. It is also home to
local communities of fishermen and more than 80 Quilombola communities
that are economically dependent on an undamaged and intact natural
environment.

See here for more information

Videos:
https://youtu.be/-JNqLeVKa6o
- https://youtu.be/xxVGSLIWkpw

Written by
DiveSSI
Date
6th February 2017
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