The coral reef on the Atlantic coast off the mouth of the Amazon River would be six times larger than originally planned, with an extension of up to 5,600 square kilometres, according to a study published on Monday.
An article published by a dozen scientists in “Frontiers in Marine Research” points out that, instead of nine thousand 500 square kilometers, the so-called Great Amazonian Reef System (GARS, in its acronym in English) would actually have 56 thousand square kilometers and its presence would have been documented in depths of up to 220 meters.
Also, the group of researchers – some of whom participated last year in an expedition on a Greenpeace ship to film and study corals for the first time –mentions that GARS could be a great biodiversity corridor between the Caribbean Sea and the south of the Atlantic.
Located on the coasts of northern Brazil, at the mouth of the Amazon River and between the states of Amapá and Marañao, the presence of Amazonian corals in this region of great biodiversity was documented last year thanks to a Greenpeace expedition.
The environmental organization carried out a 20-day mission in February 2017 with a ship and a small submarine to document the existence of corals until a few years ago and is currently carrying out another mission to deepen the investigations and demand that the authorities prohibit the exploration of hydrocarbons in the area.
France’s Total and British BP, as well as Brazilian companies, submitted projects to the local environmental agency (IBAMA) to authorize exploratory drilling in oil wells off the country’s northern coast, in waters of a depth of almost two kilometres and, apparently, inside the reef.
Last week, the Brazilian Prosecutor’s Office recommended that IBAMA deny the license for Total to explore since adequate environmental study impacts would not have been carried out to assess the risks in the environment of a possible oil spill.
In this sense, the scientists said in the article published today that more studies are also needed to know the region, and warned of the risks of hydrocarbon exploration plans for a reef potentially comparable to those of Mexico and Australia in magnitude.
“With less than 5 percent of the potential area of the GARS investigated so far, more research is needed to inform a systematic conservation plan and determine how best to establish a marine network of protected areas,” the text said.
“The exploration of oil within the GARS poses a serious threat to the biodiversity and sustainability of the region,” the text added.
Greenpeace, on the other hand, said on Monday that the second scientific-ecological mission reflects a greater biodiversity than previously thought.
“The images confirm what science and we have been affirming: that the corals of the Amazon are an incredible, special ecosystem that must be defended from the profits of the oil companies that want to drill the region,” said Thiago Almeida, Energy specialist in Greenpeace.
The announcement in 2006 of the discovery of reserves exceeding 30 billion barrels in ultra-deep waters placed Brazil as one of the countries with the greatest production potential on the planet.
Brazil currently produces around 2.5 million barrels of crude oil per day, including oil, gas and derivatives, and the International Energy Agency (AIE) expects this figure to reach 3.7 million by 2020 and 5.37 million by 2040, which will place the country among the ten largest world producers.
Source: El Financiero