The Atlantic

There Is No Escape for Corals

Deep waters have long been seen as potential refuges for endangered corals, but a new study suggests that they offer no sanctuary.
Source: Luiz Rocha / California Academy of Sciences

It’s faintly absurd to be in one of the most obscure parts of the planet—a creepy zone of perpetual gloom and imminent danger, where no other humans have ventured—and have a cartoonishly squeaky voice. That’s what Luiz Rocha and his team repeatedly experienced in their attempts to study the world’s deep coral reefs.

Picture a coral reef and you’ll likely imagine a sun-drenched world lying just below the ocean’s surface. But reefs also exist beyond these shallow waters, in the so-called, from 100 to 500 feet down. To study the unfamiliar animals that live in this dim world, normal scuba skills won’t cut it. Divers need—including larger gas tanks, rebreathers that recycle the air that divers exhale, and special gas mixes that include helium. And the helium means that anyone who enters the mesophotic zone ends up with a high-pitched squeak when they try to communicate through their rebreathers.

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