The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and partners have launched a new buoy in Fagatele Bay within NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.
The scientific buoy works by collecting water quality information and measures a variety of parameters in the ocean, such as pH and temperature, which are both very important contributors to the health of our vibrant coral reef ecosystem.
Fagatele Bay is included in NOAA’s National Coral Reef Monitoring Program and with funding from the Ocean Acidification Program the addition of the buoy established Fagatele Bay as a “Class 3” coral reef survey site, the highest level of coral reef monitoring provided through NOAA.
Fagatele Bay is the first and only “Class 3” site in the southern hemisphere. Fagatele Bay is the home to more than 160 species of coral, as well as giant clams, fish, dolphins, and the critically endangered hawksbill sea turtle.
Coral reefs and shellfish are particularly vulnerable to the impacts of increasing carbon dioxide in our ocean.
As the ocean absorbs carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, the acidity of the seawater increases, affecting the ability of the shellfish and corals to build their skeletons, hinders new coral growth and accelerates reef erosion.
This new monitoring effort to measure the amount of carbon dioxide in the waters around Fagatele Bay, will help NOAA understand the changing ocean chemistry in our local waters and help them to communicate these changes to critical stakeholders in the Pacific Islands and across the United States.
“The deployment of this buoy compliments existing monitoring efforts in Fagatele Bay, and the data will be beneficial for all ocean management partners in the Territory, said Autatasi Lelei Peau, Acting Superintendent of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, “it was great to see the local resource management agencies come together to support this important project.”
Partners in the project include: PacIOOS, the National Park of American Samoa, Department of Marine and Wildlife Resources, Coral Reef Advisory Group, NOAA’s Ocean Acidification Program, Pacific Marine Environmental Laboratory, Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, Coral Reef Conservation Program, Pacific Islands Fisheries Science Center, and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa.