A “magical” coral reef stretching as far as the eye can see has been discovered off the coast of the South Pacific island Tahiti.
The beautiful reef took around 25 years to grow and was found in the "twilight zone", where it is highly unusual to unearth such a find as there is barely enough light to sustain life.
Watch: New coral reef discovered in South Pacific
"It was magical to witness giant, beautiful rose corals which stretch for as far as the eye can see. It was like a work of art," said French photographer Alexis Rosenfeld, who led the team of international divers that made the discovery.
The acres of giant corals in pristine condition show no sign of being damaged by climate change and demonstrate just how little we know about the ocean, according to experts.
They say it shows the need to protect the world’s remaining healthy reefs from environmental damage.
"For once, it's a positive story about coral reefs in the news, which is quite rare these days," Julian Barbiere, head of marine policy at UNESCO, said to CNN.
"The discovery suggests that there are, in fact, many more large reefs out in our ocean at depths of more than 30 meters, which have not been mapped," Mr Barbiere added. "It's quite a puzzling finding."
The majority of the world’s currently discovered reefs are found in warmer waters in depths of up to 25 metres, according to UNESCO.
But the reef near Tahiti, which spans almost two miles, was found nearly 70 metres underwater. Some of the rose-shaped corals measure more than 2 metres in diameter.
Climate change has resulted in coral bleaching, a stress response to overheating during bouts of warm weather in which they lose their colour and struggle to survive.
Perhaps the most famous - Australia's Great Barrier Reef, a World Heritage-listed wonder - has suffered severe bleaching to an estimated 80 per cent of its corals since 2016.
The discovery off Tahiti's shores suggests there may be many more unknown large reefs in our oceans, given that only about 20 per cent of the entire seabed is mapped, according to UNESCO scientists.
"It also raises questions about how coral reefs become more resilient to climate change," Mr Barbiere said.
More of the ocean floor needs to be mapped to better safeguard marine biodiversity, according to Barbiere.
"We know more about the surface of the moon or the surface of Mars than the deeper part of the ocean."
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