Giant coral is the widest ever found in the Great Barrier Reef

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By Alice Klein

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This dome-shaped coral is the widest ever documented successful the Great Barrier Reef

Richard Woodgett

A 10-metre-wide coral discovered successful a distant portion of Australia’s Great Barrier Reef is the widest ever recovered successful the reef system, arsenic good arsenic 1 of the oldest.

The dome-shaped coral was spotted by snorkelers undertaking a national subject probe task disconnected the seashore of Goolboodi, oregon Orpheus Island, successful bluish Queensland successful March. It was named Muga dhambi – meaning “big coral” – by the Manbarra Traditional Owners of the region.

Measuring 10 metres crossed and 5 metres high, Muga dhambi is the widest and sixth-tallest coral documented successful the Great Barrier Reef. It belongs to the Porites genus of coral, which is commonly recovered successful reefs worldwide and tin sometimes turn to monolithic sizes.

The largest known coral successful the satellite is thought to beryllium another dome-shaped Porites successful American Samoa, which is astir 22 metres crossed and 8 metres high, and is estimated to beryllium betwixt 420 and 652 years old.

Muga dhambi is besides precise old. It is astir apt betwixt 421 and 438 years aged based connected its size and maturation rate, says Adam Smith astatine Reef Ecologic, an biology consulting radical successful Queensland, who led a survey of the coral.

The Great Barrier Reef has experienced astir 100 coral bleaching events and 80 large cyclones implicit the past 4 centuries, hinting that Muga dhambi whitethorn person familial traits allowing it to past these kinds of assaults, says Smith. If so, harnessing these traits could assistance prevention different corals that are astatine hazard of being wiped retired by clime change, helium says.

Big corals similar Muga dhambi are important for reef ecosystems due to the fact that they enactment arsenic cardinal hubs for reef life, says Smith. “It’s a spot similar an flat artifact successful a municipality – it’s a existent absorption point, it’s wherever a full batch of food and different creatures stitchery to instrumentality shelter, rest, and feed.”

Journal reference: Scientific Reports, DOI: 10.1038/s41598-021-94818-w

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