Facilitating Science
American Samoa

RV Manuma about to be released into the water
The R/V Manumā supports research and monitoring, education and emergency response. Credit: ONMS, NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Please contact the Research Coordinator for discussions on facilitating research within the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.

Research Coordinator: Melissa Snover

Boats

The National Marine Sanctuary of AS operates a 11 meter ridged-hull inflatable named R/V Manumā. The vessel supports research and monitoring, education and emergency response.

Boats can also be chartered through Pago Marine Charters: 684-699-9235.


Permits

A permit is required for research and for activities otherwise prohibited by regulations. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity and for application guidance.


Diving

The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa has warm, clear waters with thriving, diverse coral reef communities. Snorkeling is accessible by a 15 minute hike in to Fagatele or Fagalua/Fogama'a bays, which can also be accessed by charter boat for scuba diving. Charters provide diving access to the nearshore island of Aunu'u, or to the much more distant island of Ta'u, home to the Valley of Giants, including what is possibly the largest Poritescoral in the world.

Scientific divers from other institutions can arrange for reciprocity with NOAA if they wish to work with sanctuary divers or on sanctuary vessels. Please contact the Research Coordinator to facilitate planning research that utilizes SCUBA diving.


Lab Space

Currently, there is no lab space available to researchers at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.


Accommodations

Accommodation is available at various locations on the main island of Tutuila.  Options are primarily hotel rooms, but vacation rentals are sometimes available.  Prices are generally at the government per diem rate (approx. US$140/night) for hotels.

The less-populated outer islands of Manu'a offer a few options.


Research Areas

Fagatele Bay has a long history of marine research, and the Aunu’u management unit Zone B is designated a Research Zone.


Data Buoys

A buoy that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions has been deployed near the boundary of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. This buoy is maintained by the Pacific Islands Ocean Observing System. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. More information on this buoy may be accessed from here.


Equipment and Instruments

Currently, there are no instruments or equipment available to researchers at the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.


Special Considerations

Samoans are generally very familiar with mainland US customs, but there are certain Samoan cultural practices that researchers will find different from US norms.  Swimming is prohibited in villages and most other locations on Sundays due to religious observances.  The dress is fairly conservative:  for women, shorts that cover the knee and shirts with sleeves are considered appropriate, including for water activities. Bikinis and speedos are generally inappropriate except at tourist locations. Many villages observe sa, which is a time of prayer every evening before sunset, during which walking through the village (and swimming in its waters) is not allowed.  Before entering the water in a village, it is good practice to ask permission from a resident nearby. Researchers should have prior clearance with the village leaders if conducting shore-based work in the village; this can be arranged through the Office of Samoan Affairs or through the sanctuary if working in a sanctuary unit. 

Flight Times
Flights are only twice a week (Mondays and Fridays) from Honolulu on Hawaiian Airlines.  Smaller flights travel daily in between Tutuila and Apia, Samoa, where connections to other locations are possible.

Shipping Considerations
Shipping by air is best done through the US Postal Service, as FedEx and UPS are extremely unreliable to American Samoa.  Packages should arrive within two weeks with USPS (and can take months with FedEx and UPS).  Ocean freight can be arranged through shipping companies and takes about two weeks from the US West coast, longer from Hawaii.   Note that Hawaiian Airlines does not allow biological samples to be taken on the flight as checked or carry-on baggage; they can usually be taken as cargo, but arrangements must be made well in advance for paperwork and permits. 

Supplies
Many items are difficult or impossible to find on island, most notably specialized or high-end computer and electronic supplies.  Those that are available are expensive.  Food options are also limited; vegetarians or those on a restricted diet may wish to bring desired non-perishable goods with them. 


Key Documents

Research Needs
Documents that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues. Remove the hyperlink from the subtitle and move to the sentence.

Condition Report
The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.

Management Plan

Sanctuary managers have developed a new combined final management plan (FMP) and a final environmental impact statement (FEIS), along with a rulemaking. The FMP/FEIS presents eight action plans designed to help achieve specific sanctuary goals, directly address current priority resource management issues and guide sanctuary management over the next five to ten years.

Since 2003, an annual survey of Tutuila's marine mammals focusing on the humpback whales that visit each winter, has been conducted by the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary's Research Coordinator David Mattila. Click here to learn more about humbpback whale research in American Samoa.

Draft Environmental Impact Satement and Management Plan for the Proposed Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (October 1983): Prepared by the Sanctuary Programs Division of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and the Development Planning Office of the American Samoa Government.

Final Environmental Impact Statement and Management Plan for the Proposed Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary (1984) (pdf, 13MB): Prepared by the Sanctuary Programs Division of the Office of Ocean and Coastal Resource Management, and the Development Planning Office of the American Samoa Government.

A Brief Bibliography of Scientific Literature: American Samoa and Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary
A listing of recent publications, posters and documents produced by the sanctuary.