For the first time, an area of reefs with deep-sea corals was discovered in the Mediterranean Sea, offshore of Israel.
The University of Haifa's Leon H. Charney School of Marine Sciences exploration team who made the discovery was led by Professor Zvi Ben Avraham, and used the vessel Nautilus for the operations.
The coral reef stretches over several kilometers, at 700 meters in depth and 30 to 40 kilometers off the coast of Tel Aviv.
The researchers were extremely amazed by this discovery and qualified it as an “oasis in the desert”, because this southeastern region of the Mediterranean is very poor in sea life.
“We did not expect, know, or even imagine that we would come across these reefs and certainly not such large ones.
“It's like finding a flourishing oasis in the middle of the desert,” said Dr. Yizhaq Makovsky, the director of the University of Haifa control center for the project.
The Nautilus worked at sea for two and a half weeks and when it returned, it brought to shore many discoveries, but the coral reef was by far the biggest.
Apparently there are many more things to be discovered on the sea bed but until now, the Nautilus has found two shipwrecks which it photographed, as well as fish and crabs in their natural habitat, hundreds of meters below the surface.
One of the most fascinating fish ever caught on camera was the Chimera Monstrosa, of the "ghost sharks" family that separated from sharks some 400 million years ago.
Dr Makovsky explained that “this cruise has provided a nutshell sampling of this maritime region, but our discovery only demonstrates the potential of the many surprises that await us in the depths of this area.
“An immediate implication of this discovery is that there is an urgent need to classify the area as a deep-sea reserve, as are other coral reef areas around the world,” he added.