We now have footage of a coral reef in the Amazon River, a place "where the textbooks said there shouldn't be one," according to Fabiano Thompson, one of the researchers who announced the discovery of the reef in 2016.
The video footage is slow moving, but it doesn't negate the unfiltered beauty of the reef. If anything, it gives the viewer more time to soak in the surprising nature of the discovery. Researchers first stumbled onto the reef in 2012 after hearing rumors about it. The reef runs between 164 and 328 feet deep and spans 3,668 square miles, or about three times the area of Rhode Island.
The area is murky and prone to strong currents — another reason the deep-diving vehicle that shot the video is moving slowly — but plenty of marine life, including a sponge that weighed as much as a baby elephant, thrives on and around the reef. Scientists believe the reef could contain a number of previously unidentified species and have already begun to better map the reef and its inhabitants.
Oil companies are eyeing the area because it's estimated there could be between 15 and 20 billion barrels of oil in the area. Greenpeace, which supplied the footage of the reef, is already mounting conservation efforts to keep the reef safe from drilling and potential oil spills.