American Samoa Praised for its Coral Reefs

American Samoa has been noted for having the biggest corals in the world in its six marine sanctuaries, according to the Visitors Bureau, citing Simon Mallender of Dive Planit of Australia.

Mallender said that American Samoa offers a variety of dive sites from shallow bays with healthy reef ecosystems, to reef walls that fall away to “unfathomable depths.” It is home to three marine sanctuaries. The longest established is Fagatele Bay, which has been a no-take area since 1986 with all the coral is in impeccable condition. Large numbers of reef fish keep the corals clean of algae, and hence healthy – an ecosystem in perfect balance, according to Mallender. Over the years, over 270 species of fish and over 150 species of coral, have been counted in the one bay.

The next bay over is Fagalua/Fogama’a which allows only for subsidence fishing by local villagers, is likewise home to pristine coral crowns and a myriad of reef fish. There is also a Marine Protected Area (MPA) on nearby Aunu’u island. The MPA here is zoned into a multi-purpose zone and a research only zone. Mallender said this kind of sanctuary is important because it provides a baseline of what a coral reef, removing all the influence of mankind, should look and be like. A yardstick to measure how badly other reefs, which are subject to urban run-off, overfishing and pollution, are faring.

All the Marine Sanctuaries on Tutuila can be scuba dived, either from the shore or from a charter boat.

It is on the nearby island of Ta’u that the world’s largest corals have been discovered. Standing some 7 meters and 8 meters wide these large boulder corals, are thought to be more than 500 years old.

In addition, along with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries second "Get Into Your Sanctuary" event hosted concurrently in all 13 sanctuaries and Marine National Monuments on June 25 - 26 across the U.S., will include American Samoa. The purpose is to raise awareness of national marine sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation and sustainable tourism opportunities.

This year’s celebration at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa on June 25 will be held at Fagalua/Fogama’a management area in Vaitogi with guided Eco-Tour hikes led by 10 Student Interpretive guides from the adjacent communities certified by interpretation training from the National Park of American Samoa and the sanctuary.

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