New coral reef in Australia "rivals Great Barrier Reef"

Massive coral fans, rare fish species and huge underwater dunes discovered

Australia's Great Barrier Reef Has Competition
Researchers in Australia have discovered a coral reef so diverse that it rivals world-famous natural wonder, the Great Barrier Reef.

Using an underwater video camera and virtual reality goggles, they explored never-before-seen parts of Wilsons Promontory Marine National Park in southern Australia.

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Over three days, they made "exciting discoveries" which include a deep-sea world of hard and soft coral, colourful sponge gardens and huge coral fans.

Their Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) dove to depths of 330ft, allowing the research team to witness boulders the size of houses, 100ft-high sand dunes and underwater sea caves.

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Steffan Howe, Parks Victoria's marine science manager, told The Huffington Post: "Part of the area we are looking at was actually above sea level during the last ice age."

He added that what makes the site so comparable to the Great Barrier Reef is the "spectacular invertebrate communities and abundant fish communities within these areas.

"It looks like a biodiversity hotspot in Victoria, or even possibly nationally."

Speaking to the Daily Telegraph, Howe said the abundance of sponge gardens and corals was an especially exciting discovery.

Some of the rare fish species found include the Australian barracuda and Longsnout Boarfish. The team also uncovered 90m-deep holes with schools of deep sea perch, which grow up to 80cm-long.

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