This expedition proposes to study the "underrepresented" organisms of French Frigate Shoals and surrounding areas. These organisms are species that do not live among the better studied coral reefs, but live in sand flats, or in fields of coral rubble, or deep slopes. In shallow waters the casual observer will swim over these habitats and see little except undistingiushable bottom with an occasional fish here and there. A more careful observer may see something dart back into a hole, or disguise iteself so completely against the bottom that its location is lost. But to the taxonomists and other scientists aboard this expedition these environments are absolutely bursting with life. There are worms, and tiny crustaceans, micro algae, micromollusls, corraline algae, and microbes; literally a thriving metropolis of critters in a handful of sand or rubble. If that is not fascinating enough, what makes this expedition even more unique is that these habitats have barely been studied in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI), and many new species to science, and certainly new records of organisms from this area are expected.
In order to collect and study these tiny organisms, a dazzling array of collection methods will be used. Each technique has been qualified by the habitat(s) it targets and the organism types that will likely be collected. In order to reduce impacts in the fully protected NWHI, collection methods have been evaluated against their potential impacts and the sceintists on this cruise have labored to modify their collection techniques, or elliminate techniques, to have the minimum impact. The samples collected are a public trust and will not be used for bio-prospecting, sale, bioassay, patent, obtaining patents or intellectual property rights.