Thousands of years ago, off the coast of Africa, glacial runoff from the mountain Kilimanjaro formed a deep lagoon. Now, this pool of chilled water acts as a sanctuary for marine life and corals. It is a safe zone, not affected by the rising sea temperatures.
The reef, found by scientists with the Wildlife Conservation Society, thrive with marine life. The coast has the highest density of dolphins in East Africa. Also, rare dugongs have been sighted in the area. Not only that, coelacanths, a prehistoric fish once thought to be extinct, have been found in the deeper reaches of the area according to Eco Watch.
Dr Tim McClanahan, study author and lead Wildlife Conservation Society coral scientist, did not at first understand why so much marine life chose this place. Then he figured it out - it was Kilimanjaro.
To see if his theory was accurate, McClanahan installed temperature gauges along the coast. He could monitor these via satellites, the Guardian writes. Since the seas have started to warm up, the oceans have been exposed to more frequent heatwaves. However, in this case, the colder water from Kenya and Tanzania could make for a more suitable habitat for marine animals and therefor drawing them to this spot. When the temperature gauges showed the water temperature to be rising, McClanahan entered the water to observe how the corals were impacted. He found that they were preserved.
In an interview with InsideClimate News, he explained how this works.
"It would be like running hot water into a cold bathtub; if the bath is cold, it would take a long time to warm up. By the time these hot water events pass, they haven't really raised the temperature of the water all that much. So you maintain these coral sanctuaries where the water is cool."
Hopefully, this amazing area will be preserved and protected so the reef can keep being a sanctuary to all sorts of marine life in the future as well.