New Coral Reef Growths Found in the Snapper Banks - KiiiTV.com South Texas, Corpus Christi, Coastal Bend

New Coral Reef Growths Found in the Snapper Banks

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CORPUS CHRISTI (Kiii News) -

Did you know that there are ancient coral reefs right off our coastline in the Gulf of Mexico?

A team from the Harte Research Institute has just returned from a trip aimed at taking a closer look at those structures, and not only did they bring back some incredible underwater video, they discovered a previously unknown coral reef in that ancient bank, and it was rich with marine life.

The video was shot along the ice age coral reef. Most people here know the area as the Snapper Banks. The banks are about 40-50 miles offshore, and are in water that is around 350 feet deep.

The newly discovered reef has scientists excited. They are black corals, which are now calling the ancient reef home. Some stand four feet tall. They are also known as wire corals.

Dr. Wes Tunnell and a team of researchers from the Harte Institute took a remote underwater vehicle with a mechanical arm down to the reef to study it. It was all part of an effort to look at setting up marine reserves in the future out in the Gulf.

"We're working, to work with Mexico and Cuba and the U.S., to establish a network of marine protected areas around the Gulf of Mexico, and we probably know less about the South Texas banks as these similar kinds of structures that kind of make a ring around the Gulf of Mexico," Tunnell said.

Scientists said the ancient coral reef now has 8-10 times the amount of marine life than the Gulf floor. That's why it is important to study and protect.

Researchers were also trying to figure out the source of red tide during their two week expedition in the Gulf.