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The Bahamas includes more than 700 islands in the warm western waters of the Atlantic, beginning just 100 km off Palm Beach, Florida, and stretching in a great southeasterly arc for more than 1,200 km to the Windward Passage, the entrance to the Caribbean Sea. One hundred twenty-eight collections for diatom analysis from various habitats and substrata were made between 1987 and 1993 in the Bahamas. Collections were primarily of natural substrata, macroalgae, or seagrasses. One of the more unique habitats sampled was actively growing stromatolites at a depth of about 8 m.
A total of 379 taxa distributed among 94 genera were observed during this study. Diversity of taxa in most collections was relatively high with most Shannon-Wiener diversity indices above 3.0. All taxa are illustrated with 806 photographs in 75 plates. The genera represented by the greatest number of taxa were Mastogloia (75), Amphora (37), Nitzschia (29), Navicula (25), Cocconeis (20), and Diploneis (17).
Two taxa (Brassierea vivens and Oestrupia grandis) previously have been described by the authors as new taxa. Additional taxa will be published as new species in future publications following completion of detailed SEM study. The present paper considerably expands the number of known diatom taxa from the Bahamas. The publication of the extensive book on benthic marine diatoms by Witkowski et al. (2000) includes many of the taxa found in this study. However,of the 1,183 taxa listed in Witkowski et al., only two (Mastogloia pseudolatecostata Yohn & Gibson and Navicula longa var. irregularis Hustedt) are reported specifically from the Bahamas. Comparison of the taxa previously reported from the Bahamas in other publications indicate 253 of the 312 named taxa listed in this study are new records for the Bahamas.