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On this day 34 years ago (April 29, 1986), Fagatele Bay was designated as the first site of NOAA National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Protection and preservation of coral reefs, fish and invertebrate diversity, and marine mammals is embedded in the rich Samoan culture, and continues today in co-management with NOAA and the American Samoa Government.

Photo credit: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

This laumei at Fagatele Bay wishes you a turtley awesome week ahead!

Photo credit: David Herdrich

Happy Earth Day! 🌏 Did you know that the ocean holds about 97 percent of the Earth's water?! Should've been called Planet Ocean, if you ask us!

Photo credit: Greg McFall/NOAA

1... 2... 3... Let's see how many surgeonfish you can count!

Photo credit: David Herdrich

Manuia Le Aso O Le Fuβ€˜a, Amerika Sāmoa! πŸ‡ΊπŸ‡ΈπŸ‡¦πŸ‡Έ Happy 120th Flag Day, American Sāmoa!

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS

Oh CORAL, the REEF is alive! Yesβ€”coral reefs come in so many colors, shapes, and sizes, but look closer and you'll see that they are made up of thousands of tiny animals (called "polyps") that get its color from algae (called "zooxanthallae") that live in their tissues. Coral reefs are significantly important because they protect our coastlines, provide habitats for fish and invertebrates that are a source of food, and contribute to the global blue economy.

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS

Happy National Dolphin Day! 🐬

If you've ever boated around American Samoa, you may have encountered Spinner Dolphins (Stenella longirostris) playfully breaching just off the bow of the boat, just like this pod seen just off the coast of Aunu'u island. They are named "spinners" because of their habit of jumping out of the water and spinning rapidly--up to 7 times!--before splashing back into the ocean.

Photo credit: Ed Lyman/NOAA

Meet the locals of American Samoa's marine sanctuaries

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This is a Peacock Grouper (Cephalopholis argus), also known as "Gatala" in Samoan. They are territorial species, and can change colors when mating or when threatened. As a protogynous hermaphrodite, the Gatala starts its life as a female and changes to male as it matures. So is it spotted or striped? πŸ€”

Photo credit: NOAA

Just a little reminder that the ocean connects us all. Sending our warmest ALOFA to you all on this 'feel good Friday', from our national marine sanctuaries.

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NOAA

KEEP CLAM AND CARRY ON 🌊 The lagoon at USFWS Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is well known for its faisua (giant clams). The faisua are found in high densities in the lagoon and may be an important source of larval recruitment for other islands in the archipelago.

Photo credit: LTJG Brian Caldwell/NOAA Corps

Meet the locals of American Samoa's marine sanctuaries

πŸ πŸŸπŸ³πŸ™πŸ¦πŸ‘πŸ¦€πŸ¬

This is a Lined Surgeonfish (Acanthurus lineatus). The herbivorous reef fish has many names, but is known as "Alogo" in Samoan. The vibrant Alogo is striped in yellow, blue, and black, making it easy to spot when snorkeling. While admiring this fish, you can look but don't touch! They have sharp spines at the base of the tail that are venomous. "Surgeonfish" is an apt name because the spine is as sharp as a surgeon's needle.

Can you guess the other common names for the Alogo?

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NOAA

Taking a pause today to admire this view above water of Aunu`u Island-- a small volcanic island approximately 1.2 miles southeast of Tutuila. Can you guess what village this photo was taken from?

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NOAA

Meet the fish in our American Samoa marine sanctuaries! πŸ πŸŸπŸ³πŸ™πŸ¦πŸ‘πŸ¦€πŸ¬ This is a juvenile black and white snapper (Macolor niger) spotted at Fagatele Bay. In its initial phase, the snapper is striped and starts out as a solitary fish. As it becomes an adult, these snappers change colors to solid black, and gather in large schools, feeding on crustaceans and smaller fish.

Photo credit: RJE/NOAA

Just keep swimming! Here, a double barrel butterflyfish (chaetodon ulietensis) swims past a survey line as Research Coordinator Valerie Brown does a fish count in Fagatele Bay in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

Photo credit: LTJG Tim Holland/NOAA Corps

extreme low tides this week at Fogama`a Cove

Do you smell that? That is "tai masa" - the acrid salty smell in the air when coral are exposed during low tide. These photos were taken during the extreme low tides this week at Fogama`a Cove, where the shallow reef areas were exposed to very hot temperatures. Please take care when visiting the beach, and refrain from touching or stepping on corals so that they can recover from the intense heat stress!

Photo credit: Hanae Futae Spathias/NOAA

NMSAS scientist collecting data

EXPOSED! 🌊 King tides mean higher high tides and lower low tides. This week, the lowest low tides occurring midday have coincided with record setting temperatures in American Samoa, exposing vulnerable coral to heat stress! NMSAS scientists are collecting data at Fagatele Bay and Fogama’a to understand how this will affect our coral reefs. Stay cool everyone!

Photo credit: Val Brown/NOAA

Big Momma the massive porites coral

WHOA, that's one Big Momma! This massive porites coral in the Ta`u marine sanctuary waters is one of the largest and oldest coral colonies in the world, and has a circumference of 41 meters (135 feet), and stands at 6.4 meters (21 feet) high! Porites are massive, reef-building corals that grow very slowly, sometimes as little as 1 centimeter (0.39 inches) per year. Coral cores sampled in 2012 by Stanford University scientists reveal that Big Momma started growing around 1479 AD, making Big Momma 541 years old to date!

Photo credit: Val Brown/NOAA

whale breaching

πŸ“£ Calling all high school students in American Samoa! We have a πŸŽ₯ STUDENT FILM COMPETITION, in collaboration with Fale Film and Finafinau! Share your sanctuary stories creatively through film for a chance to win a grand prize and be featured on Bluesky American Samoa Moana TV! See flyer for more details, or contact us at 633-6500. A

Thirty high school students got a deep dive training on filmmaking

We co-hosted a 2-day Student Filmmaking Workshop, in collaboration with Fale Film, American Samoa Department of Education, Finafinau student sustainability group, and with support from Bluesky American Samoa, Ruby Red Samoa, and Samu's. Thirty high school students got a deep dive training on filmmaking, and after a safety briefing, were treated to an interpretive hiking tour of Fagatele Bay including local legends and information on the sanctuary's marine resources.

Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NOAA

whale breaching

Whale you be my Valentine? πŸ‹Because I'm head over fins about you, and it's Whale Week!

Photo credit: NOAA

Fish swim above corals

This stunning capture of a school of purple queens (Pseudanthias pascalus) among a thriving coral community serves as a reminder that the ocean supports a great diversity of life and ecosystems, and that is why we strive to protect our underwater treasures.

Photo credit: Greg McFall/NOAA

A diver floats above large coral heads

I love big bommies and I cannot lie!
You scuba divers can't deny...
That when a coral takes up all the space,
You get a big smile on your face!

Photo credit: RJE/NOAA

fish swim in a coral reef

Martin Luther King Jr. once said, β€œIf you can’t fly then run, if you can’t run then walk, if you can’t walk then crawl, but whatever you do you have to keep moving forward.”
We say, "How about a swim?" πŸ‹πŸ πŸŸπŸ¬πŸ¦ˆπŸ‘πŸ¦‘πŸ¦πŸ™

Photo credit: Wendy Cover/NOAA

A fish pokes its head out of coral

Says the arc-eyed hawkfish to the weekend: "Peek-a-boo! I sea you!"

Photo credit: NOAA

NOAA 50th anniversary logo

This year, our NOAA family is celebrating 50 years of science, service, and stewardship! Our strength is in our people and our partnerships. So many have dedicated their lives to this agency. They love their work and the mission, and it shows. The passion of our workforce throughout the generations has made us who we are.

Fish swim around corals

Manuia le Kerisimasi ma le Tausaga Fou! πŸŽ„
Happy Holidays from your National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. We hope all your wishes and fishes come true this season! πŸ‹πŸ πŸŸπŸ‘πŸ¦ˆπŸ¬

A small fish surrounded by corals

Grunt or sweetlips?

Both! The oriental sweetlips (Plectorhinchus vittatus) is also known as a "grunt" because they produce a grunting sound with their flat teeth plates rubbing together, a sound amplified by their air bladders. This charming sweetlips was spotted swimming in Fagatele Bay. (Photo credit: Valerie Brown/NOAA)

(Photo credit: Valerie Brown/NOAA)

A fishing boat at night

Talofa and good morning from the start of day 1 at the 4th annual Fagota Mo Taeao Open Fishing Tournament! The Fagota Mo Taeao ("fishing for tomorrow") Open Fishing Tournament is co-managed by NOAA National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa and Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, and made possible by a community of sponsors. The purpose of the tournament is to increase awareness of regulations in sanctuary management areas, and promote sustainable fishing practices in waters surrounding American Samoa.

(Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS)

A sea turtle

TURTLEY awesome! 🐒 This is a hawksbill sea turtle (Eretmochelys imbricata), which can be identified from its hawk-like bill, or beak! Hawksbill turtles are listed internationally as critically endangered species, so we like to think that spotting them is a sign of good luck!

(Photo credit: Emily Gaskin/NOAA)

A woman swims above a large coral head

Happy marine Monday - It's a good week to have a great week! πŸ’¦ In this photo, Knauss conservation science fellow, Dr. Katie Lohr, swims above a large porites coral head in Fagatele Bay. Doesn't it make you want to jump right in too?

(Photo credit: Valerie Brown/NOAA)

Spiky branching coral

Acropora (ooh) nana! You might have seen this one while snorkeling in American Samoa. This species of acropora branching coral is one of the most common species found in intertidal reef crests as they are fairly resilient and can withstand intense wave action.

(Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS)

silhouettes of three women standing on a beach with their arms raised

Get up, get active, and GET INTO YOUR SANCTUARY! πŸ’¦

(Photo credit: Iosefa Siatuu/NMSAS)

A whale tail

Spotted! πŸ‘€ It's peak whale season in American Samoa, which means you can catch a glimpse of these awe-inspiring marine mammals! πŸ‹ Humpback whales (tafolā) are long distance travelers, stopping through the islands to breed and continue their migration south to Antarctica. Let us know if you've spotted a whale this season!

(Photo credit: NMSAS/NOAA)

A clown fish

IT'S HERE! We have a fin-tastic new website that we're excited to share with you. Along with ways to get involved, and information about NMSAS’ science and education programs, our new website also features interactive multimedia, and a collection of video stories that highlight some of American Samoa’s marine resources and ocean stewards. πŸ πŸŸπŸ‹πŸ™πŸ¦žπŸ¦€πŸ¦πŸ¬πŸ¦ˆ

A field of green leafy plants

Known for its special texture and taste, can you guess where this taro patch can be found? Hint: It's in one of our sanctuary villages!

(Photo credit: Nerelle Que)

A wood fire

If you know, you know... 😊 Happy Sunday! #Umu #FaaSāmoa #AsoSā

(Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS)

Fish swim through corals

Fagatele Bay is rich in marine species diversity! How many different fish can you spot? πŸ‘€

(Photo credit: Emily Gaskin/NOAA)

Teachers examine homemade rovs in a swimming pool

What a pool day for STEM educators looks like! We’re wrapping up the final day of our Underwater Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) teacher workshop with applied science and a friendly competition. Thanks to Sadies by the Sea for allowing us to use your pool.

(Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NMSAS)

A family poses for a photo

Enjoy these fun memories from our Get Into Your Sanctuary summer fun day in Aunu`u! We enjoyed guided hikes, a scavenger hunt, weaving demonstrations, delicious food, and a surprise visit from two pods of humpback whales!

πŸ“· Did you take photos? The annual GIYS photo contest is still open, so make sure to submit your best photos for a chance to be featured on the Earth is Blue magazine!

Special thank you to the Aunu`u village council and community members for sharing your special place with us.

A group gathered to watch the nautilus live broadcast

SHIP-TO-SHORE! πŸ›³ Talofa lava to Dr. Ballard and the Nautilus Live team, from the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! We enjoyed the live telepresence interaction, learning about deep-sea science, and the Q&A session from the crowd!

A pavilion set up for a get into your snactuary event

Get Into Your Sanctuary weekend is here! Join us for a Sanctuary Summer Fun Day in Aunu`u on Saturday, August 3rd. Come out and enjoy the outdoors with friends and family. Hop on a water taxi from Auasi to Aunu’u ($4 round trip per person) and once on Aunu’u, you have the choice of joining a hiking tour in/around the beauty of this island with local tour guides, or you can visit the food booths featuring delicacies special to Aunu`u, learn how to weave, and/or take some pics to remember your experience in the onsite photo station. A completed scavenger hunt during the hiking tour will earn you a free t-shirt! To register for events, please contact the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center at +1(684) 633-6500.

A Jellyfish

Explore American Samoa's only volcanically active seamount, Vailulu`u, with Nautilus Live and the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! The ROVs have just begun their descent into the crater... watch it live online at

Please join us tomorrow for our final telepresence event at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center from 9:00am-11:00am! Learn about the research ship and meet the crew, including famous oceanographer, Dr. Robert Ballard! (Photo: OET/Nautilus)

View from the E/V Nautilus at night

Another update from our team at sea. Currently off the coast of the Manu’a islands monitoring the wind and swells for an ROV dive today to continue deep sea exploration!

Thanks to everyone who participated in the live telepresence interactions with us! Please join us for another telepresence interaction with us and Nautilus Live next week Thursday, August 1st at the Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center from 9am-11am!

The E/V Nautilus approaching Swains Island

Day 2 of the Nautilus research cruise in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. After a full day of sailing, we are now off the coast of Swains island in the national marine sanctuary management area, and are currently conducting the first deep-sea dive using ROVs Hercules and Argus at depths up to 2500 meters. Our science team is working with the Nautilus crew to characterize benthic species at these likely never before seen areas, conduct transect surveys, and photo-mosaic 3D imaging. The first dive is expected to take approximately 24 hours.

People on a ship

Talofa from the American Samoa team aboard the E/VNautilus! We departed early this morning and are headed for Swains Island as the first national marine sanctuary dive site! Check out the live stream on Nautilus Live’s website

A group of people standing in front of the E/V Nautilus

Last week's ship tours of the Ocean Exploration Trust's E/V Nautilus here in American Samoa!

ICYMI - JOIN US on the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries' page on Sunday, July 21 at 12:30pm (AS Time) because we will be broadcasting LIVE to give you a virtual tour of the ship, introduce some of the scientists and crew on the ship, and talk about our upcoming deep-sea expedition!

A sea star

Oh my stars! ⭐️ We're so excited to be partnering with the Ocean Exploration Trust's E/V Nautilus for a deep-sea expedition right here in your National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa!

Tune in LIVE on the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries page on Sunday, July 21 at 12:30 PM (AS time) to get a behind the scenes virtual ship tour, meet the scientists and crew, and learn about the American Samoa expedition goals and objectives! (Photo credit: NOAA/Okeanos)

Clear water leading up to a beach

Can you guess where this is in American Samoa? Here's a hint, it's one of our beautiful marine sanctuaries! πŸ˜‰ Happy Clean Beaches Week! 🏝 Don't forget to submit your photos of sanctuary life, views, and recreation to our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! πŸ“· (Photo credit: Isabel Halatuituia/NOAA)

A girl swimming

Swim into your sanctuary! πŸ’¦ What's your favorite way to get into your sanctuary?

πŸ“£ Calling all photographers! πŸ“· Submit your favorite photos from your last visit to NOAA National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa for a chance to be featured in the Earth Is Blue Magazine! Photo contest details (Photo credit: NMSAS/NOAA)

A father walks down a path with his family

"A tausi tamā le si`osi`omaga, e tausi fo`i tamaiti le siosiomaga." When fathers take care of the environment, children will take care of the environment. Manuia le Aso Sā o Tamā (Happy Father's Day!) (Photo credit: NMSAS/NOAA)

A boy holds up freshly caught fish

Get into your sanctuary like Joseph Umu in Aunu`u! American Samoa is blessed to have six beautiful and unique marine sanctuaries across our islands, so find your sanctuary and get into it!

Send us your best photos in any of these categories--sanctuary life, views, and recreation--for a chance to be featured in the Earth Is Blue Magazine! Photo contest details (Photo credit: NMSAS/NOAA)

A sea turtle swims in crystal clear water

What kind of photos do turtles take? Shell-fies! Happy Sea Turtle Week 🐒 and have a turtley awesome day! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

People standing on a beach

Talofa from Manu`a! We hosted our annual Sanctuary Summer Science in the Village program in Ta`u to engage and connect our youth to their unique sanctuary village! (Photo credit: NMSAS/NOAA)

Dolphins swimming

National marine sanctuaries are like underwater parks, so get out there and enjoy all that nature has to offer! And don't forget that you can enter our annual photo contest now through September 2nd, and you could be featured in the next Earth Is Blue Magazine! (Photo:NOAA)

Fagatele Bay

Fagatele Bay... more like Fagatele Bae!
We're all connected by one big ocean, and no matter where you are in the world, the ocean affects all our lives in big and little ways. Happy World Oceans Day, from our marine sanctuaries to yours. (Photo: Nerelle Que/NOAA)

A sea turtle in crystal clear water

What kind of photos do turtles take? Shell-fies!
Happy Sea Turtle Week, and have a turtley awesome day! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

Dr. Mareike Sudek

Welcome to the office of our Research Scientist, Dr. Mareike Sudek! On this day, Dr. Sudek was conducting tow surveys at Fogama`a/Fagalua and Fagatele Bay to monitor reef health in our sanctuaries. What does your office look like today? (Photo: Nerelle Que)

Children fishing from a rocky shore

"Get Into Your Sanctuary" this summer with family and friends! Snap some photos and enter the annual photo contest for a chance to be featured on the Earth Is Blue Magazine! For photo contest rules and details, visit (Photo: NOAA)

A group of seniors in front of Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center

"Connect. Create. Contribute." is the theme for this year's Older Americans Month. Communities that encourage the contributions of older adults are stronger! By engaging and supporting all community members, we recognize that older adults play a key role in the vitality of our neighborhoods, networks, and lives. (Photo: NMSAS/NOAA)

A life preserver on a boat

Heading out on the water? Make sure you are prepared with safety gear! Being a responsible boater creates endless possibilities - happy National Safe Boating Week! (Photo: Nerelle Que/NOAA)

A yellow buoy with a boat passing in the background

OH BUOY! - A new scientific buoy was launched at Fagatele Bay that measures a variety of parameters in the ocean, such as pH and temperature, which are both very important contributors to the health of our vibrant coral reef ecosystem. This new buoy also complements existing monitoring efforts at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Special thanks to all our project partners: PacIOOS, National Park of American Samoa, Department of Marine & Wildlife Resources, Coral Reef Advisory Group, NOAA Ocean Acidification Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, and Pacific Island Fisheries Science Center. (Photo credit: Nerelle Que/NOAA)