Reef twilight area offers species protection from coral bleaching: expert says

While climate scientists are desperately scrambling to find out ways to protect coral reefs, Queensland Museum’s senior curator Tom Bridge has said that there is a reef "twilight zone" that protects the diversity of species from mass coral bleaching.

Dr. Bridge pointed out that nearly two-thirds of all coral species live in dark as well as cold waters -- sometimes as far as 700 meters below the surface of sea water.

Speaking on the topic, Dr. Bridge said, “The deeper we go, the less we know. We’re often only talking about this very top bit of the coral reefs and we have a very good idea about what goes on there, but we really have little knowledge about what goes on below there.”

These so-called twilight zones are called “mesophotic” coral ecosystems that translate to “middle” light.

The reefs well-below the surface still receives sufficient sunlight to support photosynthesis, allowing the coral to appear similar to that in the shallow-water reefs.

One of the key reasons these twilight reef areas are poorly known in comparison to shallow reef surfaces is because these areas are quite tricky to explore and study.