C O M M O N C O R A L S O F A M E R I C A N S A M O A

OVERVIEW

There are over 250 coral species found in American Samoa. Even within a species, different coral colonies can be variable in their appearance depending on the surrounding environmental conditions. The species composition in the different reef zones, as well as between different geographic locations, is also often variable. However, some common species are relatively easy to distinguish. Below is a coral guide, presenting 24 common coral species found in American Samoa.

INTRODUCTION

American Samoa is part of the Samoan Archipelago in the South Pacific Ocean, 2500 miles south of Hawaii. It consists of seven islands, five of which are high, volcanic islands, and two are small atolls. American Samoa is lined with fringing coral reefs that harbor a multitude of the marine life.

Coral reefs are geological structures composed of calcium carbonate rock made by living organisms. Corals are a major contributor of the calcium carbonate that builds the reef, and they form the hard framework that holds it together. Reefs provide habitat for an estimated million different species, and are therefore considered the most diverse marine ecosystem known in the world. Major groups of organisms living on reefs include corals, fish, algae, and many different kinds of invertebrate animals.

Coral reefs are very valuable because they reduce the strength of waves and so protecting tropical shorelines from being eroded away. They also provide high-protein food for millions of people around the world. Additionally, because of warm, clear water, and a kaleidoscope of colorful animals, reefs are ideal for snorkeling and diving; this makes reef tourism an important part of the economy in many parts of the world.

Common Corals of American Samoa.pdf