Fagatele Bay
Fagatele Bay

Photograph courtesy of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

 

Map of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

Location
The southwest shore of Tutuila Island, American Samoa, 14 degrees south of the equator

Protected Area
0.25 square miles (0.65 square kilometers)

Date Designated
April 1986

Habitats
Tropical coral reef

Key Species
Crown-of-thorns sea star
Blacktip reef shark
Surgeon fish
Hawksbill turtle
Parrot fish
Giant clam

Cultural Resources
Evidence of the 3,000-year-old Polynesian culture, which originated in Samoa

An eroded volcanic crater provides the exotic setting for the smallest and most remote of the national marine sanctuaries: the tiny, one-quarter-square mile (0.65-square-kilometer) Fagatele Bay sanctuary off Tutuila Island in American Samoa. The bay formed by the collapsed crater shelters the only true tropical coral reef in the sanctuary system. It is overlooked by steep slopes covered with luxuriant Polynesian rain forest.

Some 200 species of coral share the bay with jewel-toned tropical fish, crabs, shrimp, eels, turtles, and dolphins. From June to September southern humpback whales calve, court, and cavort in these and nearby waters.

In recent years the coral reef at the heart of the sanctuary has been damaged by a series of natural disasters. During the late 1970s coral-eating crown-of-thorns sea stars devoured much of the reef. Then, in the early 1990s, two hurricanes pummeled the bay. A few years later the reef suffered from coral bleaching, which causes coral to sicken and die. Fortunately, today the reef is recovering, with new growth everywhere.


For more information,
check out NOAA’s Fagatele Bay profile:
http://www.sanctuaries.nos.noaa.gov/oms/
omsfagatele/omsfagatele.html

Address
Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary
PO Box 4318
Pago Pago, American Samoa 96799

Communication
Tel: +011 684 633 7354
Fax: +011 684 633 7355
E-mail: fagatelebay@nms.noaa.gov
Sanctuary Web site: http://www.fbnms.nos.noaa.gov/

 

© 2000 National Geographic Society. All rights reserved.