The Great Amazon River Reef Endangered By Oil Drilling

The reef is Located near the mouth of the Amazon River near Macapa,in the State of Amapa in northeastern Brazil. The size of the reef is about 3,668 square miles and is between 164 and 328 feet deep.

We found a reef where the textbooks said there shouldn’t be one,” study co-author Fabiano Thompson of the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro told National Geographic.

The BBC reports that licensing processes for oil exploration in the area are already happening. Citing the constant risk of an oil spill as one possible environmental repercussion if drilling happens there, Greenpeace has started a campaign to protect the reef.

Greenpeace launched a submarine from their ship Esperanza which took the photos. Greenpeace is currently in the region for the “Defend the Amazon Reef” campaign that the advocacy organization has started.

Greenpeace says, “A team of experts, including several oceanographers who announced the discovery of the reef last year, have joined the Greenpeace ship Esperanza on an expedition to document this new biome, which runs from French Guyana to the Brazilian state of Maranhão, an area larger than the cities of São Paulo or London. Oil companies Total and BP could start drilling in this area if they obtain authorization from the Brazilian government.”

The team were searching in a submarine launched from the Esperanza at 220 a metre depth, more than 100 kilometres far from the Brazilian coast, when the reef came into view for the first time.

There is a Care2 Petition to stop oil drilling near the reef, “Stop Oil Drilling Near Discovered Amazon River Coral Reef”. The petition has a goal of 9,000 signatures and as of today has 8,359.

You can sign the petition here The petition states, the following: Scientists have just made an incredible discovery: A flourishing coral reef the size of Delaware near the base of the Amazon River’s mouth in Brazil. The reef stretches approximately 3,700 square miles and is home to “beautiful, colorful reef animals” — some species may have just been discovered.

Sadly, the reef is already under attack by big oil. As the Los Angeles Times reports, the researchers of the study also noted: “In the past decade, a total of 80 exploratory blocks have been acquired for oil drilling in the study region, 20 of which are already producing,” the study authors wrote. “These blocks will soon be producing oil in close proximity to the reefs.” The study authors go on to recommend that these oil companies complete “a more social-ecological assessment.”

Oil exploration in the Amazon rain forest is already a big problem. One estimate says that oil exploration covers a section of the Amazon rainforest comparable to the size of Germany. In this unstable time of global coral reef decline caused by climate change and ocean acidification, we can’t afford toxic contaminants, like lead and cadmium, to harm the Amazon reef’s ecosystem.