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Assessing Coastal Waters of American Samoa: Territory-wide Survey Data Provide a Critical "Big-Picture View" for this Tropical Archipelago

Guy T. DiDonato 1, Eva M. DiDonato 2, Lisa M. Smith 3, and Linda C. Harwell 3

1 National Ocean Service, Hollings Marine Laboratory, Charleston, South Carolina
2 National Park Service, Southeast Coast Network, Charleston, South Carolina
3 U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, Florida

The American Samoa archipelago, located approximately 4500 km SSW of Hawai’i, is comprised of 5 volcanic islands and 2 coral reef atolls and is the only US Territory located in the South Pacific. In 2004, the coastal areas of the 5 main islands were surveyed using NCA protocols to evaluate water quality. This was the first large scale marine water quality survey ever done in the territory. The resulting data demonstrate that water quality around the territory is generally good, and that large proportions of the territory comply with local water quality standards. There were some notable exceptions. Approximately 34% of territorial waters did not comply with the local chlorophyll a standard, and 21% of the waters exceeded the standard for total nitrogen. These two variables were not correlated, however. These survey data have been utilized to prepare the territory 305b report. Previous efforts to measure water quality were localized and sporadic at best; these data provide a critical big-picture view concerning marine water quality for the territory.

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