Stories from the Blue: Peter Taliva'a

May 2017

Peter Taliva'a has worked as a boat captain for National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. To him, the sanctuary community is strong because "we work together. Not individually, but as a family." Watch our video to hear Peter's Story from the Blue.


We are the people of the sun.

We are the people of hospitality.

And we welcome each and every one.

When you come here, you're family.

My name is Peter Taliva'a.

I'm from the island of Aunu'u and I work for the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa as the boat captain.

Wake up 4:00 in the morning, your first alarm.

4:30 then I'm up.

Say my prayer.

Samoan put God first.

It's very important.

I was raised up as a very spiritual family.

I was stationed at North Carolina 82nd Airborne Division.

I was a paratrooper.

Did one tour in Afghanistan and after my eight years I came back home.

I was a heavy wheel mechanic.

I worked on five tons, Humvees, wrecked vehicles.

I pretty much break stuff and fix stuff and recover stuff.

I'm very happy to call myself as a Samoan and I'm very happy to call myself that I'm part of the United States and serving inside our army.

When I come back home and it's kind of slow pace, but there's a lot of that understanding and that knowledge that I brought back with me and then I apply to take care and to prep my family and also, you know to help out with our territory.

I have this opportunity working for the national marine sanctuary and it's a it's a blessing to work here, fulfilling my passion, also gain more knowledge about the ocean.

Catch the boat from Aunu'u and start my day to come to work.

It would take me 30 minutes depends on the traffic. If it gets bad probably 45 minutes.

So I used to work for the Department of Marine and Wildlife as research diver.

Monitoring corals and reefs, do surveys with fishes.

I also was the boat captain taking our divers out.

And I heard they were looking for a captain for the national marine sanctuary.

Then I say to myself "wow, it's a really big step and it's a good opportunity."

So I just apply and pray for it and the next thing you know then, I'm here. (laughs)

I learned a lot from different of my colleagues that I work with.

It's a multitask, not only driving the boat, also fixing the boat every time when we have problems, teaching our staff about boating safety. (Over here we have a kill switch.)

I love engaging with the students, especially the elementary kids.

But there's one thing. It's the smile of the divers that I'm very proud of.

That highlights my whole trip.

If the divers are happy to see what they haven't seen before, I'm happy.

The biggest challenge is still trying to give out the word, the correct information to the public, but I would say it's getting there.

We have a stranded vessel that drift over our reef and it was part of the sanctuary multi-purpose zone.

That's one of the area where I used to fish.

This is one of my work as a very young age to support and to provide extra bread on our table to help my mom and dad and there's a lot of fish around that area.

We spent a lot of hours we, spend a lot of planning and we involve the locals, also the villages, the chiefs, and we want to get their blessings.

And we got it! And it was challenging.

That's another thing that makes us strong is we work together.

Not individually, but as a family. Three tries and the fourth try it was, feels like somebody just kicked that vessel out and on the high tide and they didn't hit any corals or anything.

It was a miracle.

And if it wasn't the national marine sanctuary step in for people that come in and remove this boat out from our reef probably by now our reef are destroyed.

My greatest fear for the sanctuary is for people not listening and for people trying to stop what we're trying to do and not working with us.

And my other fear is to take the program away from the territory.

So that's my fear.

So the national marine sanctuary protects the ocean.

The national marine sanctuary educates us, to the community, to the schools.

I'm from Aunu'u, our whole village understand the role or the work of the national marine sanctuary.

And it's where people come in from all over the world to see what we have here.

We're so far away, and it's very expensive to come over here, and we want to show them we are living in a very true paradise.

When I get to Aunu'u, I greet after work on the pier with a lot of kids.

They come in and they help us carry all our stuff to my house.

Like I said I have a lot of passion for the ocean and this is another thing I have passion for.

It's to communicate and to fellowship with the kids.

My hope for those kids is to make a better place for us here in the territory.

I really like to see most of these kids to come up to be lawyers, judges, doctors, researchers, marine biologists.

And after that when they come back I want them to continue what I'm doing right now.

Helping and to bring back to our territory.

To me, being a real Samoan is you gotta learn the roots.

It's loving one another, serve God, to stand together as one.