"In a shallow underwater cave off the southern coast of France, a team of scientists and conservationists discovered a stunningly pristine population of Mediterranean red coral.
“I remember my first thought: ‘Man, I don’t think there’s anything so special in here,’” recalls Joaquim Garrabou, a marine ecologist with the Spanish Research Council and head of the research team. His colleague, Jean-Georges Harmelin, had discovered the site while surveying grouper populations in the Scandola Nature Reserve, off the coast of Corsica.
Garrabou soon changed his tune, when the submerged cliffs of unassuming rock opened into a stunning sight: a cave over 3,000 square feet in area, full of the densest population of large red coral colonies ever discovered, let alone at such a shallow depth. The research team mumbled joyfully to each other through their regulators. The dome-like overhang put ecologist Silvija Kipson in mind of a past trip to the Sistine Chapel: “head constantly up, gazing in awe at a masterpiece crafted by nature.”"