Colorful Photos Reveal the Secrets of Australia’s Twilight Zone Coral Gardens

Another sea snake.

Another sea snake.
Photo: Schmidt Ocean Institute

Incredibly, though many coral ecosystems around the Australian continent are suffering due to the consequences of the climate crisis like ocean acidification and warming water temperatures, these mesophotic regions seem to be doing pretty well.

“Our observations of the reefs showed the mesophotic zone at Ashmore to be diverse, vibrant, and healthy,” said Karen Miller, a principal research scientist at the Australian Institute of Marine Science and chief scientist of the expedition. “We found no evidence of coral damage.”

That may be a sign that mesophotic coral ecosystems are particularly resilient to changing temperatures as well as other human pressures. But it’s also likely a sign that conservation efforts at Ashmore Reef Marine Park are going well.

These new findings, which the scientists compiled into an impact report, could help the scientific community learn more about these mysterious mesophotic coral ecosystems. The researchers hope the footage and samples they captured will eventually provide important insights into how to protect similar underwater ecosystems. Given what’s happening in other parts of the ocean, we certainly need them.

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