Palau 'Twilight Zone' Expedition, 4-19 May 1997

New Discoveries

Below is a table of the biological discoveries made during this expedition. In most cases, these appear to be species new to science, but significant geographical range extensions are also included.

Photo Name Description
Holanthias borbonius This fantastic fish is not a new species; but it is most probably a new record for Palau. It lives from Japan to South Africa, so we would expect it to be here. Restricted to deeper waters, this species is almost never encountered by divers.
Chromis sp. 1 This appears to be a new species of damselfish. It is abundant at depths of about 280 to 330 feet.
Chromis sp. 2 Another apparently new species of damselfish from the deep reefs of Palau. This species has similar depth distribution and habitat as the previous one.
Bodianus sp. We originally discovered this striking wrasse at Rarotonga in 1989. We also found it at Papua New Guinea in 1995, and have found it to be extremely abundant here in Palau. I saw more than a dozen individuals today, of a wide variety of life stages. This species is being described by Dr. Martin Gomon.
Cirrhilabrus sp. 1 We saw several of these little wrasses at depths of about 220 feet to 300 feet, where it is not especially abundant. We have not yet seen the male form; both specimens we collected appear to be females. It seems similar to Cirrhilabrus rubromarginatus, but it's difficult to ascretain its identity.
Pseudanthias sp. There was a group of these fairy basslets at a depth of 295 feet, under a large rock. This seems to be the female form; we saw a male form (which was much more striking in color), but could not collect it.
Trimma sp. 1 This little goby was very abundant on the shelf at 300 feet. We also saw several other unidentified small gobies nearby.
Lyrocteis sp. ? Pat Colin collected this unusual benthic ctenophore living on a gorgonian coral near the bottom. Not enough is known about this group of organisms to ascertain whether or not this one is new. It is large; about 8 inched long.
Genicanthus bellus Not a new species, but a new record for Palau. John had seen this fish, which is the female form, in association with the male form (very different color pattern), but we only collected the female.
Trimma sp. 2 An unidentifed goby of the genus Trimma with a very distinctive color pattern. I saw several at a depth of 250 feet, and John collected this one at 160 feet. Jack Randall collected two additional specimens at about 110 feet.
Unidentified Crab This is a small crab John picked up at a depth of 300 feet. It was living on a gorgonian coral near the entrance to a small cave.
Unidentified Starfish 1 I hadn't noticed this starfish on any previous dives, but it seemed to be all over the place on the dive of 10 May. They were just scattered about on top of the terrace, near the base of the vertical drop-off.
Unidentified Opisthobranch I found this relative of the nudibranchs in a small hole at a depth of about 360 feet.
Plectranthias sp. When I first saw this fish I thought it was a hawkfish (family Cirrhitidae), but I soon realized it was actually a species of the genus Plectranthias; a distant relative of groupers.
Liopropoma sp. 1 We had seen this fish on several dives, but had assumed it to be Liopropoma latifasciatum, a species from Japan. It may yet prove to be that species, but on closer inspection, it looks somewhat different.
Liopropoma sp. 2 I have been trying to collect this species for the last 8 years, but it has always eluded me. I first saw it down deep in the Cook Islands, but couldn't catch it. I saw it again in Papua New Guinea, but despite the fact that it was abundant, I never managed to catch one. On May 10th, I finally got it! It is a new species.
Pseudanthias sp 2 This fish is very similar to one I discovered in the Cook Islands 7 years ago. On that dive, I ran low on decompression gas, and my wife Lisa saved me by supplying me with more. For this reason, I decided to name this species in her honor (it has not yet been named). I also saw this similar species in Papua New Guinea, but didn't collect it there.
Terelabrus sp. This little wrasse may prove to be Terelabrus latovittatus, a species we collected in Papua New Guinea. The New Guinea version, however, has bright yellow stripes where this one has white stripes.
Pseudojuloides sp. This appears to be the male form of a new species of wrasse in the genus Pseudojuloides. It was collected at a depth of 275 feet.
Pseudocoris sp.? We're not sure what this is. We know it's a wrasse, and we think it's in the genus Pseudocoris, but other than that, we're stumped!
Cirrhilabrus sp. 2 This species of wrasse was extremely abundant in front of Blue Holes, down the sandy sope, at a depth of about 270 feet and beyond. Fortunately, they were also easy to collect. The male form is above, and the female below. It is a new species.
Pseudochromis pylei This is not a new species, but it is a new record for Palau. It was not named after me (Richard Pyle); but rather, a distant cousin of mine, Robert M. Pyle. I saw several of these at about 280 feet.
Trimma sp. 3 In life, this species of Trimma (a goby) is off-white with pale-yellow saddle-like markings. It is extremely abundant at 300 feet.
Trimma sp. 4 We only found a few specimens of this species of Trimma, all below 280 feet.
Trimma sp. 5 Although similar to Trimma sp. 4, closer inspection of this specimen revealed that it is different.
Trimma sp. 6 This colorful little goby is uncommon, usually around 300 feet deep.
Trimma sp. 7 This is the smallest of the Trimma that we have collected - only about half an inch in total length. The others are larger - up to an inch or more in length.
Unidentified Scorpionfish This cute little fish has filamentous extensions on its head, similar to the shallow-water "Fu-Man-Chu" scorpionfish (Dendrochirus biocellatus). It is less than an inch in length, and the only one we saw, so we're not sure whether it's a juvenile or an adult.
Bodianus izuensis This is not a new species, but it is a new record for Palau. We also found it in deep water at Papua New Guinea.
Synchiropus sp. This is the first species of Dragonetfish we have encountered on the deep coral reefs. We're not certain whether it is new or not, but we think it is.
Plectranthias sp. 2 I saw this species of Plectranthias in abundance in Papua New Guinea below 300 feet. The largest one I saw was about an inch and a half. This is the first specimen we've seen here. It's color is similar to a species found in Japan, but that one gets much larger in size, so is probably different.
Liopropoma sp. 3 This very distinctive Liopropoma is unquestionably new. It is small (about 2 inches), and apparently very rare, because we have seen dozens of other Liopropoma before, but this is the first one of these we have seen.
Symphysanodon sp. This is probably not a new species. It is common among the ledges and caves below 280 feet, and is usually about 7-8 inches long. This one seems to be a juvenile or subadult; only about 4 inches long.
Unidentified Heart Urchin I saw this unusual Heart Urchin crawling across the sand on a terrace at 300 feet. We're not sure whether it's a new species.
Unidentified Starfish 2 John found this large (almost a foot across) and unusual starfish at a depth of about 220 feet. He brought it up for most of the dive, but then he was momentarily distracted assisting me during a bailout procedure (see log report of 14 May 97). When Lori & Pat saw it on the video back at the lab, they decided it might be worth collecting. We saw exactly where John dropped it on the video, but none of us knew how far it could travel in a day, so Pat went back out that same afternoon and found it again.
Click on the photos or names to display full-size images.

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