Diving Big Momma

Big Momma is a massive Porites coral colony that lives in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa on the west side of Ta’u, American Samoa, in an area called the Valley of Giants. Big Momma is the largest of several massive Porites in that area.


The sanctuary science team departs Tutuila by boat.

The Manu'a islands are about 90 miles northeast of Tutuila.

It can take between 4-6 hours of transit by boat.

Passing by the marine sanctuary's Aunu'u unit.

Partners may also participate in joint research projects.

Along the way scientists prepare for their field work.

Upon arrival in Ta'u, the team gears up for their dive.

Reearch divers descend to about 40 feet.

There's Big Momma - a massive Porites coral.

Big Mommoa is estimated to be over 500 years old.

It is approximately 21 feet tall and 135 feet in circumference.

Big Momma is one of the oldest and largest know corals in the world.

Sanctuary scientists monitor the health of the coral - recording the various coral and reef fish species found here.

They also check for gorwth anomalies and signs of bleaching.

Recent observations reveal that Big Momma remans healthy despite bleaching events around the world.

The resilience of thest massive corals remains a mystery, and scientists continue their efforts to protect tese precious resources.

Thanks for diving with us!

The research dive was conducted while following all relevant local, state, and federal guidelines to ensure the health and safety of staff and research partners.