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1 . American Samoa     American Samoa
American Samoa is a U.S. Territory located approximately 4,200 km south of Hawai’i. It is the southernmost of all U.S. possessions and the only U.S. jurisdiction in the South Pacific. American Samoa comprises seven islands (five volcanic islands and two coral atolls) with a combined land area of approximately 200 km2 (Figure 11.1). The five volcanic islands, Tutuila, Aunu’u, Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’u, are the major inhabited islands of American Samoa. Tutuila, the largest island, is also the center of government and business. Ofu, Olosega, and Ta’u, collectively referred to as the Manu’a Islands, are 107 km east of Tutuila. Two outer islands, Rose Atoll and Swains Island, are approximately 259 km and 327 km from Tutuila, respectively. Rose Atoll is uninhabited and is managed as a National Wildlife Refuge (NWR) by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service (USFWS), while Swains Island is inhabited by a subsistence population of approximately 10 people.

The islands range in size from the populated high island of Tutuila (138 km2) to the uninhabited and remote Rose Atoll (4 km2). The total area of coral reefs (to the 100 m depth) in the Territory is 296 km2. Due to the steepness of the main islands, shallow water habitats around the islands are limited and consist primarily of fringing coral reefs (85% of total coral reef area) with a few offshore banks (12%) and two atolls (3%). The fringing reefs have narrow reef flats (50-500 m); depths of 1000 m are reached within 2-8 km from shore.

Coral reefs in American Samoa support a high diversity of Indo-Pacific corals (over 200 species), fishes (890 species), and countless invertebrates. In recent years the corals have demonstrated considerable resilience following a series of natural disturbances, including four hurricanes in the past 18 years, a devastating crownof- thorns starfish invasion in 1978, and several recent bleaching events. Following each disturbance, the corals eventually recovered and grew to maintain the structural elements of the reefs. However, because serious overfishing has occurred, the Territory’s coral reef ecosystem cannot be considered healthy based on the resilience of the corals alone. Furthermore, climate change impacts such as warm-water coral bleaching and coral disease are becoming increasingly apparent and pose a major, repetitive impact to the structure and function of local reefs. Additionally, the Territory’s high population growth rate (2.1% per year) continues to strain the environment with issues such as extensive coastal alterations, fishing pressure, loss of wetlands, soil erosion and coastal sedimentation, solid and hazardous waste disposal, and pollution.
Source: Craig, P., G. DiDonato, D. Fenner, and C. Hawkins , 2005 , The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of American Samoa. . p.312-337 in Waddell, J. (ed.), 2005. The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005. NOAA Technical Memorandum NOS NCCOS 11. NOAA/NCCOS Center for Coastal Monitoring and Assessment’s Biogeography Team. Silver Spring, MD. 522 pp. (See Document)

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