Taiwan is located on the eastern edge of Asian continental shelf. To the west of Taiwan is the shallow Taiwan Strait, to the northeast is the Okinawa Trough (maximum depth 2,716 m), to the east the complex and diverse Philippine Sea (with deep oceanic trenches), and to the south the South China Sea (maximum depth 5,016 m). These deep-water environments were where the surveys were carried out.
This study focused on Taiwan’s deep-sea fish fauna which so far hasn’t been investigated much, and hoped to learn if the fauna varies depending on sea area, current and water depth. The specimens caught all went through taxonomic identification and had their collection time, water depth and coordinates recorded. A geographic information system (GIS) on their distributions was established in order to provide references for future academic researches as well as for resource development, management and assessment. One or several specimens per fish species were selected to have their photos taken in color. Keeping to the Barcode of Life tissue preservation techniques, a small piece of tissue was then excised, preserved in 90-95% alcohol and stored at BRCAS in liquid nitrogen canisters. Backup tissue samples were also stored at Livestock Research Institute, COA so that in the future they can be used in the study of molecular biology and genetics. The voucher specimens and whole fish specimens were stored at BRCAS too. All the specimen information was entered into Taiwan Fish Database and is freely accessible to all.
The study of deep-sea fish fauna, due to the difficulty and high cost incurred in its surveys and collections, is hampered by the lack of data. Taiwan is situated along the edge of the Eurasia plate, and is at the junction of three Large Marine Ecosystems or Ecoregions of the East China Sea, South China Sea and the Philippines. Since nearly two-thirds of Taiwan’s surrounding marine ecosystems are deep-sea environment, it is expected to hold a rich diversity of deep-sea fish. In the past, no research vessels had been employed to collect fish data on site. There were only specimens from Dasi and Donggang fishing harbors caught by bottom trawl fishing in the water hundreds of meters deep and missing precise locality information. Began in 2001, with the support of National Science Council, research vessels were made available to take on the task of systematically collecting deep-sea fish specimens and occurrence records in the waters surrounding Taiwan. By the end of 2006, a total of 3,653 specimens, belonging to 26 orders, 88 families, 198 genera and 366 species, were collected in addition to data such as sampling site geographical coordinates, water depth, and fish body length and weight. All the information are open and accessible from the “Database of Taiwan’s Deep-Sea Fauna and Its Distribution (http://deepsea.biodiv.tw/)” as part of the “Fish Database of Taiwan.” It should be beneficial to the study of the temporal and spatial changes of the distribution and abundance of fish fauna in the context of global deep-sea biodiversity.