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New species and new records of marine species discovered in NW Hawaiian Islands

the Florida Museum of Natural History and an expert on tropical Pacific coral reef invertebrates, said "the information gained from this expedition will help us to understand the evolution of life in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, and provide a biogeographic baseline to study the pathways by which marine organisms have spread throughout the archipelago."

Dr. Jim Maragos, a coral expert with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service's Pacific Remote Islands National Wildlife Refuge Complex who has worked in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands for over 6 years and participated in many research expeditions to the area, as well as spent a long career spanning the tropical Pacific, was astounded when another expedition member, John Starmer, showed him a species he has never seen. "There was this tiny coral colony that John showed to me off the eastern side of the atoll that I have no idea what it is," he said. "I cannot even place the genus or family it belongs to. It is a complete unknown." During the cruise Dr. Maragos has discovered as many as 11 new species of coral and 18 new records at French Frigate Shoals, but this one is unique in that he cannot even place it in a category, nor could Dr. Paulay, also a recognized coral expert. Dr. Maragos reported the second sighting of an improbable new species of Acropora coral discovered last month further up the chain at Lisianski.

Managers from the three co-trustee agencies responsible for management of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument were also enthusiastic about the results from the expedition, and their application to management of the area. Dr. Dan Polhemus of the State of Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources, Division of Aquatic Resources, himself an invertebrate expert, applauded the scientists' efforts, many of whom donated their time to participate in the expedition. Although it will take a year or more before all the data are processed, and species are ful
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Contact: Megan Moews
megan.moews@noaa.gov
808-348-3738
Census of Marine Life
30-Oct-2006


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