In August, a team of researchers working some 160 miles off the South Carolina coast made a startling discovery that upended the scientific community’s understanding of where deep-sea corals thrive off the Eastern Seaboard.

There, a half mile below the water’s surface, scientists aboard the famous deep-sea submersible Alvin encountered mountains of ghost-white Lophelia pertusa, a stony coral species. Using sonar mapping of the ocean floor, they estimated that this previously unknown reef spans at least

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