Massive Coral Reef Found in Amazon River

South of Cuba in South America, the Amazon River is home to a stunning array of wildlife -- from pink dolphins to dangerous piranhas. Spanning from Peru all the way to Brazil, the Amazon is the second longest river in the world.

And now, scientists from Brazil and the U.S. have discovered a new treasure -- a massive coral reef that stretches for 600 miles. Corals are tiny, soft-bodied animals that band together to build protective, rock-life reefs. And they're usually located in clear, tropical waters, so scientists were surprised to find the reef system in the muddy waters at the mouth of the Amazon River.

The coral reef appears to be healthy. Scientists have already discovered many new species that live in the area, including 61 species of sponge and 73 types of fish.

Scientists say the coral reef was overlooked for so long, because it sits below a muddy mixture of fresh water from the river and salty seawater from the Atlantic Ocean, also known as a plume.

Instructional Links

PDF: National Aquarium, Coral Reef Fact Sheet

PDF: National Aquarium, Amazon River Animals Fact Sheet

Website: Teacher Resources & Game, Journey into Amazonia

Website Article: Living with the Great Lakes, the River Plume

Online Reference Source: Science Online, Amazon River

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