Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary nestles in an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, American Samoa. The fringing coral reef ecosystem in the bay represents the only true tropical reef in the Program. Fagatele Bay provides a home to a wide variety of animals and plants that thrive in the protected waters of the bay. The sanctuary containcs many of the species native to this part of the Indo-Pacific bio-geographic region. Turtles, whales, sharks and the giant clam all find refuge in this protected area. The Sanctuary is open all year round. The land surrounding the bay belongs to the Fuimaono family who has lived near the bay’s slopes for thousands of years. Public access to the Bay is from the main highway within the village of Futiga, where you have to turn off onto a dirt road that passes the landfill and veers past a vegetable farm area to the gate. The only homestead on your right is occupied by the assigned caretaker of the family lands- Mr. Asuemu Fuimaono.
Fogama’a/ Larsen’s Bay
Fogama’a or Larsen’s Bay is just east of Fagatele Bay on Tutuila Island and is slightly larger at 0.46 square miles (1.2 square km). Fogama’a cove make up the inner, western portion of the entire bay area, which extends from Steps Point to Sail Point Rock. Like Fagatele Bay, Fogama’a was formed by a flooded volcanic crater and is surrounded by steep, forested cliffs.
Aunu’u is a small, volcanic island 1.2 miles southeast of Tutuila with a land area of 0.58 square miles and is home to Aunu’u village. This sanctuary area encompasses 5.8 square miles, and includes a 3.9 square mile research zone and a 1.9 square mile multiple-use zone. Harvesting marine resources is prohibited in the research zone (except surface fishing and trolling for pelagic species is allowed) to help differentiate natural and human induced changes in the sanctuary, and to help study climate change impacts. This area is a hot spot for coral cover, fish biomass and species richness. It also encompasses diverse marine habitats, including shallow-water fringing reefs, mid-water patch reefs, and deep-water reefs.
Muliava (Rose Atoll)
Rose Atoll is approximately 150 miles (240 km) east-southeast of Tutuila Island’s Pago Pago Harbor. It is the easternmost Samoan island, the southernmost point of the United States, the only atoll in the Samoan archipelago and one of the smallest atolls in the world. The Muliāva sanctuary area encompasses 13,507.8 square miles (34,985.04 square km) of marine waters of the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument and waters surrounding the Vailulu’u Seamount, the only hydrothermally active seamount within the EEZ. The inner sanctuary boundary is adjacent to the seaward boundary of the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge. Hence, the sanctuary does not include the land or lagoon waters that make up the refuge.
Swains Island is a low-lying emergent seamount and coral atoll located about 200 miles (350 km) northwest of Tutuila. It is geologically part of the Tokelau volcanic island group and not the Samoan volcanic chain. This sanctuary area encompasses 52.3 square miles (135.5 square km) and includes territorial waters within a 3 nm circle of the island, excluding the interior lagoon and two channels between the lagoon and the sea.
Ta’u, part of the Manu’a Island group, is a volcanic island located approximately 150 km northeast of Tutuila Island that is ringed by extremely steep sea cliffs and a steeply dropping seafloor. Ta’u has a south-facing embayment, the result of collapse and landslides off the remnants of a southern caldera similar to the Fagatele Bay formation. The Ta’u Island sanctuary area encompasses 14.6 square miles (37.8 square km) and includes waters from Vaita Point to Si’ufa’alele Point along the western coast, and from Si’ufa’alele Point to Si’u Point along the southern coast. The inner sanctuary boundary along the southern coast is adjacent to, but does not include, the near shore waters of the National Park of American Samoa, which extend 0.25 nautical miles from shore
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