With its conspicuous blue eyes and shiny orange claws, this colorful crab seems hard to miss. But it's one of many species that had likely never been seen until scientists went exploring in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument this fall.
An international team of biologists made the discoveries in October during a three-week survey of a remote coral atoll called French Frigate Shoals. (See a printable map of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands
In addition to this anemone hermit crab, scientists found several potentially new species of corals, sea stars, snails, and clams. The researchers discovered over a hundred species never before seen in French Frigate Shoals and many more that had never been recorded in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands or, in some cases, the entire Hawaiian island chain.
The finds highlight the diversity of life in the new national monument, which was established by presidential decree
in June, creating the world's largest marine sanctuary.
"It's hoped that our work will heighten public appreciation and awareness of this unique area and lead to a better understanding of how we manage such large and sensitive marine areas," team member Joel Martin, of the Natural History Museum of Los Angeles County, said in a press statement.
The expedition was conducted as part of the international Census of Marine Life and was led by NOAA's Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center in Honolulu, Hawaii.
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Photograph ) Susan Middleton (2006)