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NWHI Deeper Submerged Banks

There are approximately 30 deeper, partially explored, submerged banks and seamounts with coral formations in addition to the coral reefs which surround the main 10 Northwestern Hawaiian Islands (NWHI). These submerged areas are feeding grounds for seabirds and Hawaiian monk seals. The banks lack the protection provided by barrier reefs, and don't have much live coral cover. Some scientists hypothesize that the banks may serve as stopping-off points or bridges for marine species as they move from island to island. NOAA’s National Marine Fisheries Service investigated several of these formations by using an acoustic seabed classification system and a Tethered Optical Assessment Device (TOAD) towed camera. Preliminary assessments indicate that in general, all of the banks have very rough bottoms with numerous outcroppings, protuberances, and rocky areas. Generally, they are biologically near-barren and dominated by sand and algal beds. However, the bank areas provide extensive habitat for bottom fishes and a few are known to provide foraging habitats for Hawaiian monk seals. Large precious corals, such as gold, pink, and black corals, are also found in the deep waters of the banks.

The banks consist of Raita Bank; St. Rogatien Bank; the first bank west of St. Rogatien Bank and east of Gardner Pinnacles (Bank Number 7, which remains unnamed); Pioneer Bank; Southeast Brooks Bank, which is the first bank immediately west of French Frigate Shoals; and the first bank immediately east of French Frigate Shoals.

The view of Brooks Bank
3D perspective view of Brooks Bank. Click here to view the large version.

Raita Bank

A significant percentage of reef-building corals within the waters of the United States are contained within the NWHI. While elsewhere in the world coral reefs are threatened and stressed by human activities such as coastal development, pollution, and resource over-exploitation, the remote location of the NWHI has helped protect its coral reefs from adverse human impact. The shallow-water coral reefs of the NWHI are truly unique. They are still pristine ecosystems with a much greater diversity in reef habitats than in the MHI.

Pioneer Bank

The view of Brooks Bank
Map view of Brooks Bank, NWHI. Click here to view the large version.

Pioneer Bank is only 22 nautical miles (37 km) from Neva Shoals, and their features combine to form a major coral reef ecosystem rich in biodiversity and marine habitats. The bank west of St. Rogatien lies at about 197 feet (60 m) and is approximately 2.7nautical miles (5 km) in diameter. Pioneer Bank is another oval seamount that sits at about 112 feet (34 m) and extends 11 nautical miles (20 km) east-west and 6 nautical miles (11 km) north-south. At St. Rogatien Bank, the top of the seamount is covered by about 79 feet (24 m) of water. It also is a large oval seamount and extends approximately 4 nautical miles (7 km) east-west and 10 km north-south.

Metadata and data held by CoRIS

Click on the following URL to locate metadata and data on NWHI deeper submerged banks in the CoRIS holdings . When the query screen comes up, enter "Pioneer Bank" or "Raita Bank" or "St. Rogatien" or "Brooks Bank" in the window and then click on Search.

Links to fishes observed at various seamounts

The following two URLs provide a list of fishes observed at various seamounts. Search specifically for the bank of interest.

Rainer Froese (eibniz-Institut für Meereswissenschaften, IfM-GEOMAR, Düsternbrooker Weg 20, 24105 Kiel, Germany) and Arlene Sampang ( WorldFish Center, College, Los Baños, Laguna, Philippines) April 2004.

Details of all sampling events from which species have been recorded at that seamount. Returned will be details about when, where, and how each sample was taken, and what taxonomic groups it covers.

Reference: Parrish, F.A., and R. C. Boland. 2004. Habitat and reef-fish assemblages of banks in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Marine Biology. 144:1065-1073