A Mysterious Mars-Like Reef Found 144 Meters Off The East Coast Of UAE

A year ago, there was word from a local fisherman of an unusual discovery found in the waters of the UAE. It was off the East Coast, 144 meters underwater along the seabed and it grabbed the attention of long-time Lebanese diver and founder of XR diving school, Simon Nadim who decided to explore what was dubbed the mysterious Mars-like reef.

Simon Nadim Via The National

Nadim has been exploring the UAE’s waters for more than seven years now and has made major discoveries including uncovering the long-lost section of the Ines oil tanker that sank 110 meters back in 1999. Following months of preparation, Nadim, with his team that included members of the Abu Dhabi Civil Defense, headed to the proposed siting of the reef, 30 km East of Fujairah on Nov. 23.

The 144 Meter Descent

In the diving world, there are limits to the depth a diver can undertake depending on their experience. With recreational diving, you cannot exceed a depth of 40 meters as to go beyond that will require technical diving skills known to employ more advanced techniques.

As an advanced technical diver, Nadim relied on a special blend of gases to complete this dive. Using a rebreather that re-uses the gas that a diver exhales by recycling it, Nadim was able to perform this 144-deep dive and be submerged underwater for a longer period of time. Slowly as he descended, he was surprised at what he encountered at that special depth.

The Shocking Discovery

Standing 10 meters tall was a large hill-like formation that jutted out from the flat seabed. Small fish and even some barracuda swam around the mysterious structure which was later confirmed to be a type of coral reef. What made the discovery unusual was that it looked like the surface of Mars but beyond that, at that depth temperatures were warmer than at 130 meters and there were clouds of slit released from the corals. Nadim postulated that it could be the site of thermal springs but he could not confirm. The dive left him with more questions than answers including questions about the kind of marine life found in the reef.

Discovering the unusual coral reef wasn’t the only surprising event of that day. What made the mission particularly special was that it was the deepest dive ever done in the UAE and it was the first time ever that divers stumbled upon a coral reef at that depth in that region.

What Is Happening Now?

Currently, all the footage that was taken underwater is being studied by marine biologists as well as geologists to get some answers to the many questions that were left by the discovery. Nadim is also planning on undergoing more diving missions to get more samples and to learn more about the mysterious Mars-like reef.

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