National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is located in the cradle of Polynesia’s oldest culture. The sanctuary protects extensive coral reefs, including some of the oldest and largest Porites coral heads in the world, along with deep-water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities, and rare marine archaeological resources.
The traditional culture of Samoa dates back some 3,000 years. Fa`a Samoa, or the Samoan way of life, serves as the foundation of this community-focused culture. Most activities are done together, and cultural focus is on the family rather than the individual. Fa`a Samoa consists of a number of values and traditions: aiga (family), tautala Samoa (language), gafa (genealogy), lotu (church), and fa`alavelave (ceremonial and other family obligations).
The goals of community engagement and protecting cultural heritage are closely tied in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. To preserve and perpetuate the relationship between American Samoan community and the sanctuary, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa actively involves and engages the community in sanctuary management and operations. Outreach and communication activities help increase public awareness about the sanctuary and its resources, and encourage public involvement in resource protection. Volunteer programs and advisory councils are some of the tools the sanctuary uses to increase community involvement in critical aspects of ocean stewardship.
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries supports research in all of the sites of the National Marine Sanctuary System, including National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Research plays a role in management by supplying information needed to make resource protection decisions based on hard scientific data.