Virtually every research expedition to Papahānaumokuākea yields new discoveries, including 22 historic shipwrecks, more than 70 new species of algae, 13 new seamounts—some of which are over 14,000 feet in elevation, the oldest marine organism in the world—a deep-sea black coral that can live up to 4,500 years, the world’s largest sponge, the largest gorgonian coral ever found, reefs with 100 percent of fish unique to Hawaii—this is the highest level of endemism from any known marine ecosystem on Earth, and presumably more to come!
Scientists have now discovered three new species of fish.
Randall Kosaki, from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, who led the study, said that the team collected the first specimens of male Hawaiian Pigfish about 90 metres (300 feet) below the surface.
Speaking to Hawaiian News Now, Mr Kosaki said: ‘It’s actually kind of surprising to find new species of fishes, but we actually did collect specimens of two or three potential new species.
‘But then again it kind of speaks to the fact that these deep coral reefs are very poorly explored and that there is a lot that is yet to discover.’
The researchers also observed significant coral mortality in the region that was the result of a mass bleaching event in 2014.
Mr John Burns, a researcher from the Hawaii Institute of Marine Biology, said a trip in 2015 found about 90 per cent of the coral around Lisianski Island had died.
This year, the team found that dead coral was covered in a green algae bloom.
These rapidly growing patches of microscopic marine plants starve coral of sunlight and oxygen, slowly killing them.