Marine & Environmental Sciences Faculty Books and Book Chapters

Geologic Setting and Ecological Functioning of Coral Reefs in American Samoa

Geologic Setting and Ecological Functioning of Coral Reefs in American Samoa

Book Title

Coral Reefs of the USA



Document Type

Book Chapter



Publication Date



Bernhard M. Riegl, Richard E. Dodge


Coral Reef, Reef Fish, Coral Cover, Pacific Plate, Coral Community


[Chapter Introduction] American Samoa is rich in coral reefs and all islands are more or less fringed by coral reefs. Although structurally not part of the Samoan chain, political American Samoa includes Rose Atoll, a true atoll, and Swains Island. The coral reefs of American Samoa are integrated into a national protected areas system with the National Park of American Samoa (US Department of Interior) managing some coral reefs on the north coast of Tutuila near Vatia and along the shores of southern Ofu, and southeastern Ta’u, while the National Marine Sanctuary Program (US Department of Commerce) manages Fagatele Bay.

Although debated among historians, many believe that the Samoan Islands were originally inhabited as early as 1000 bc. Thus, the division between American and independent Samoa is very recent and pre-Western history of both Samoan groups is inextricably linked. The Manu’a Islands (Ofu, Olosega, Ta’u ) of American Samoa have one of the oldest histories of Polynesia, and the Tuimanu’a title, formerly held by the highest chief of the Manu’a islands, is considered the oldest chiefly title. The title’s name is obviously derived from the islands’ name and its prestige is because the Manu’a Islands were, at least according to Samoan oral tradition, the first islands settled in Polynesia. During the Tongan occupation of Samoa, Manu’a was the only island group that remained independent because of the familial relationship between the Tuimanu’a and the Tuitonga, who was descended from a former Tuimanu’a. The islands of Tutuila and Aunu’u were culturally connected to Upolu Island in what is now independent Samoa. Still today, all the Samoan Islands are politically connected through the chieftain system and through family connections.




Springer, Dordrecht

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© 2008 Springer Science + Business Media B.V


Marine Biology


Geologic Setting and Ecological Functioning of Coral Reefs in American Samoa
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