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Scientists uncover massive 85 mile long coral reef deep in the Atlantic Ocean off the coast of South Carolina

Daily Mail logo Daily Mail 8/27/2018 Emily Crane For Dailymail.com
Scientists spent seven hours obtaining samples of cold water coral they discovered as part of a project called Deep Search involving the research vessel Atlantis last week © Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited Scientists spent seven hours obtaining samples of cold water coral they discovered as part of a project called Deep Search involving the research vessel Atlantis last week

Scientists have just uncovered a massive 85-mile long cold water coral reef deep in the Atlantic Ocean off South Carolina's coast.

The discovery was made last week during a series of dives as part of a project called Deep Search involving the research vessel Atlantis. 

A team of deep-sea scientists embarked on the expedition about a half mile below the surface and 160 miles off the coast of Charleston.

Expedition chief scientist Erik Cordes was among those to dive in the submersible vehicle, Alvin, on Thursday when they discovered the forest of Lophelia coral on a site called Richardson Ridge.

'It was an awesome dive!' Cordes tweeted.

'We traveled over 1km and were on Lophelia reef the entire time! A newly discovered line of coral mounds almost 20 miles long.'

The team of scientists spent seven hours obtaining samples of the coral. 

The scientists have estimated that the reef they uncovered actually stretches for at least 85 miles, according to HuffPost.

The discovery of the reef confirms recent observations and research made by scientists working on the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration's Okeanos Explorer ship. 

a close up of a map: A team of deep-sea scientists embarked on the expedition about a half mile below the surface and 160 miles off the coast of Charleston on a site called Richardson Ridge

A team of deep-sea scientists embarked on the expedition about a half mile below the surface and 160 miles off the coast of Charleston on a site called Richardson Ridge
© Provided by Associated Newspapers Limited

The 85 mile stretch of cold water coral includes the ecosystems previously discovered by the Okeanos team this summer. 

'This is a huge feature,' Cordes told the HuffPost. 'It's incredible that it stayed hidden off the U.S. East Coast for so long.'

Cordes described the ecosystem as being unlike anything he has ever seen before and said there was 'just mountains of it'.

'We couldn't find a place that didn't have corals,' he said. 

The research team on boat the Atlantis vessel have been exploring various canyons and ecosystems.  

'We're out here exploring these areas as the US considers drilling in these waters,' Cordes tweeted.  

He added that the coral reef needs to be protected from oil and gas development. 

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