A three-week scientific expedition to French Frigate Shoals in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument returned to Honolulu on Sunday with the discovery of many new species and a better understanding of marine biodiversity in the Hawaiian Archipelago.
An all-star team of world-renowned taxonomists (biologists specializing in identifying and naming organisms) and an experienced support crew collected and photographed many species that they cannot identify and are thought to be new species to science. The expedition found several potentially new species of crabs, corals, sea cucumbers, sea quirts, worms, sea stars, snails, and clams. Many other species were found that are known from other areas but have never been recorded from French Frigate Shoals, the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, or even the Hawaiian Archipelago. From this expedition, well over a hundred new species records will likely be identified for French Frigate Shoals.
Scientists aboard the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration Ship Oscar Elton Sette conducted biodiversity surveys at French Frigate Shoals, with a focus on the small marine organisms - crabs, worms, and many other invertebrates, algae, and even microbes - which are often overlooked but that make up the majority of living diversity on coral reefs. "It was a very successful expedition by almost any criterion, and the discovery phase has really only just begun. In the coming months, and even over the next several years, we will be conducting morphological examinations and analyzing genetic sequence data in order to further identify and classify these organisms, and possibly to shed some light on where these species originated," said Dr. Joel W. Martin of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County. "What we did not find is also important. There were several groups of animals that we expected to find but did not find, or found only rarely, such as porcellanid crabs. The apparent ab
Contact: Megan Moews
Census of Marine Life