In addition to its record-setting width, Muga dhambi stands more than 16 feet tall, making it the sixth tallest coral in the Great Barrier Reef, researchers reported recently in Scientific Reports.
“It’s a stand-alone coral . . . and we don’t see many that size,” says marine scientist Nathan Cook of Reef Ecologic, a climate and environmental consulting firm in Townsville, Australia.
Based on Muga dhambi’s height and estimated growth rate, Cook and colleagues calculate that the creamy brown, boulderlike coral is about 421 to 438 years old.
Many of the recent stories about corals in the Great Barrier Reef read like obituaries, Cook says. “Knowing that these things [like Muga dhambi] exist, and have persisted for a long time, helps to provide a renewed sense of hope for the future.”