An enormous natural tower made of coral has been discovered in the northern Great Barrier Reef that is taller than the Auckland Sky Tower or the Empire State Building.
Closer to Queensland's Cape York than New York the natural reef tower was uncovered during a 12 month research mission by the Schmidt Ocean Institute.
The discovery made last Tuesday is said to be the most significant find on the reef in 120 years.
Data returned from their unmanned submarine – named SuBastian – showed images of a spire-like reef that rises over half a kilometre to a peak just 40 metres below the ocean surface.
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Executive director of the institute Dr Jyotika Virmani said the discovery "shows how mysterious the world is just beyond our coastline." She looks forward to how the mapping data and new imagery might help us better understand these natural towers and what role it has within the Great Barrier Reef World Heritage Area.
Wendy Schmidt, founder of the research institute said it is a huge excitement to "continue to find unknown structures and new species in our Ocean."
"Thanks to new technologies that work as our eyes, ears, and hands in the deep Ocean, we can explore like never before."
Although such exciting discoveries show how little we know and how much there is still to learn about the Great Barrier, it is a habitat that is rapidly disappearing.
The Great Barrier Reef stretches 2300km along the north east Australian coastline and was designated a World Heritage site in 1981 for its scientific importance.
However a recent study by the ARC Centre of Excellence for Coral Reef Studies has shown that the reef has lost over half its coral since studies began in 1995.
The Schmidt Ocean Institute research is being used to chart the Australian seabed for the Australian seabed mapping programme AusSeabed. While they continue to fill in the blank spaces of the oceanographic maps, who knows what else could be hiding in the depths. Will we have time to discover its secrets before it is damaged beyond repair by warming oceans and coral bleaching?