B. P. Bishop Museum
Exploration and Discovery

The Coral-Reef Twilight Zone

Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary
14-18 May 2001


Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Dive Log
16 May 2001

Dive Path and Video Images

New Discoveries

FBNMS GIS Data Archive


Expedition Abstract:
The purpose of this project is to conduct an initial survey of the fauna inhabiting the deeper regions (>45m) of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Tutuila, American Samoa (located in the south central Pacific, just northeast of Fiji). Due primarily to constraints of existing dive technology, coral reef habitat at depths between about 200 and 500 feet (60-150 meters) remains almost entirely unexplored. This zone, which has come to be known as the coral-reef 'Twilight Zone', spans the biologically important gap between the highly complex and diverse shallow coral reef environment, and the comparatively sparse abyssal environment. The use of advanced, mixed-gas diving equipment called 'Rebreathers' enables us to descend to depths of 500 feet or more, allowing us to explore habitats not easily accessible to undersea researchers.

For this project, we had planned to conduct a series of deep exploratory dives within the sanctuary, and adjacent to but outside the sanctuary, conducnting both videotape surveys (inside the sanctuary boundaries) and rotenone collections (outside the sanctuary boundaries). Unfortunately, unfavorable weather conditions permitted only a single deep dive during the expedition period. However, during this single dive an important list of new discoveries were made - rendering the expedition a success. Moreover, videotape images taken during the dive provide for important "ground-truthing" data for a related project, the FBNMS GIS Data Archive.


This project was made possible through support from the U.S. National Marine Scanctuary System, and could not have been possible without the superb logistical support provided by Nancy J. Daschbach of the FBNMS. Special thanks Dawn Wright, who provided valuable GIS bathymetry plots and related data.

  If you have any comments/suggestions about the documents on this expedition web site, send e-mail to Richard Pyle at deepreef@bishopmuseum.org

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Revised 14 May 2001