TEDxBaghdad speaker Dr. Sameh Al-Muqdadi first learned how to scuba dive while studying at the Freiberg University of Mining and Technology in Germany. The Iraqi scientist was captivated by the activity, an endeavor that brings academics face to face with what they study, and wanted to bring the experience home. Soon, thanks to Al-Muqdadi and collaborators in Iraq and Germany, Geoscience Resources Iraq (GRI) — Iraq’s first scientific diving academy — was born.
Through GRI, Al-Muqdadi and colleagues began excursions along the Iraqi coastline and — soon — came upon an exciting discovery: the first-known Iraqi coral reef.
The reef, near the sediment-heavy waters of the Shatt al-Arab River, is a shocking 28 kilometers large and thrives in an area originally thought inhospitable to corals. The area is marked by extreme conditions — little light, cool temperatures and high turbidity, Al-Muqdadi says. But the discovery is just one piece to a bigger puzzle, he says. Studying what makes these corals special (and so much more) is next.
“I do believe that this discovery is only the beginning of a long journey,” Al-Muqdadi says. “We are in ongoing research for further potential discoveries.” A discovery of a reef of this kind opens doors to new knowledge and GRI is off to see what’s next.
To learn more, watch Al-Muqdadi’s whole talk below: