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Skyscraper-sized reef discovered in Australia

Scientists have discovered a massive detached coral reef taller than the Empire State Building in Australia's Great Barrier Reef.

It's the first discovery of its kind in over a century and the reef is healthy and thriving.

Footage captured by scientists shows clown fish paddling between vibrant peach and pink coral; a colourful scene found last week by a team from James Cook University.

Marine Scientist Dr Robin Beaman led the mission:

"That's it was a real eye-opener to bring the R.O.V. up over the ledge, literally climb onto the summit, and then peer around in the warm photic water, warm photic zone to see all the fish and coral and sharks there. So a very healthy coral ecosystem on this type of top of a 500 metre tall reef. It's not something you discover every day."

The nearly mile-long structure was named the "blade reef" for its sharp peak, and was found by using an underwater robot, named Subastian.

With its help, the team collected samples to be archived.

"We've found new fish species, new black coral species, we have been taking samples with the R.O.V., because it has a hand and we have a permit from the Marine Park that allows us to collect these rare corals."

This part of the seabed stands in contrast to the northern part of the Great Barrier Reef, which is suffering from bleaching where warm water causes coral to expel the algae that feeds it and ecosystems are destroyed.

"We didn't see any evidence of bleaching...what we saw instead was quite a thriving coral reef and sponge community, probably more fish than we've seen on any of the other R.O.V. dives."

The discovery is a welcome breakthrough for scientists after a study was published earlier this month that found the Great Barrier Reef had lost more than half its coral in the last three decades.