Amapá state, Brazil, April 23, 2018 – A scientific expedition carried out by the Greenpeace ship Esperanza captured new images of the northern sector of the Amazon Reef, 135 kilometers off the coast of Oiapoque in Amapá, and at a depth of 90 metres.
The 1.5 hour dive took place on 19 April with a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) and revealed a good sample of the biodiversity that marks this unique ecosystem: fish, black corals, soft corals and rich variety of sponges.
“The images confirm what science and Greenpeace have been saying: the Amazon Reef is an incredible, special ecosystem that must be protected from the greed of the oil companies that want to drill in the region,” said Thiago Almeida, campaigner at Greenpeace Brasil.
And a new study, published today by the scientific journal Frontiers in Marine Science, confirms that the Amazon Reef is almost six times larger than initially estimated, comprising an area of 56,000 km2.
The northern sector of the reef is the area most influenced by the Amazon River and has been less studied by scientists due to the strong marine currents in the region. It is also the most threatened area, because in its vicinity are the blocks that oil companies plan to explore.
Total has applied for a license to drill for oil in the Amazon Reef region and operations could start as early as this year. Last week, following Greenpeace Brazil’s announcement that the coral reef extends to one of Total’s exploration blocks, the Brazilian state prosecutor of Amapá state recommended that Brazil’s environmental agency, Ibama, deny the license to the French company Total. In its document, the prosecutor claims that drilling the area could “result in the large-scale destruction of the environment, constituting a crime against humanity subject to the jurisdiction of the International Criminal Court.”
Greenpeace is calling on the oil giant to cancel its project. A spill in the region could be devastating to a biome that scientists have barely studied and to coastline communities that depend on a healthy ocean for their way of life.