The U.S. Territory of American Samoa (the United States' southern-most territory) consists of a group of five volcanic islands and two atolls (Rose Atoll and Swains Island) in the central South Pacific Ocean, approximately 4,200 km south of the Main Hawaiian Islands. The five volcanic islands, Tutuila, Aunu'u, Ofu, Olosega, and Ta'u, are the major inhabited islands. Tutuila is the largest island and the center of government. Ofu, Olosega, and Ta'u, collectively are referred to as the Manu'a Islands.
These islands are small, ranging in size from Tutuila (138 km²) to the uninhabited and remote Rose Atoll (4 km²). Swains Island (approximately 2 km²) is an unbroken circle of land with an enclosed lagoon. The limited shallow water coral reef habitats consist primarily of fringing coral reefs, a few offshore banks, and two atolls.
Many species of Indo-Pacific corals, other invertebrates, and fishes are members of the American Samoa coral reef ecosystem. Although the corals have largely recovered from a number of natural disturbances, including a major crown-of-thorns starfish invasion, several bleaching events, and powerful damaging hurricanes, maintaining the health of the ecosystem is an ongoing task. Harmful fishing practices, coastal construction, pollution, coral bleaching, and coral disease have taken their toll. Management actions such as regulating SCUBA spearfishing, protecting large reef species, and relocation of tuna cannery outfall pipes have worked to mitigate some of the impacts and protect the coral ecosystem.
Appearing as solitary forms in the fossil record more than 400 million years ago, corals are extremely ancient animals that evolved into modern reef-building forms over the last 25 million years. Continue Reading →
coral reef conservation program
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program (CRCP) is a partnership between the NOAA Line Offices that work on coral reef issues: the National Ocean Service, the National Marine Fisheries Service, the Office of Oceanic and Atmospheric Research, and the National Environmental Satellite, Data and Information Service. The CRCP brings together expertise from across NOAA for a multidisciplinary approach to managing and understanding coral reef ecosystems.
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