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State Submerged Resources > American Samoa

American Samoa

Located in the Pacific Ocean, about two-thirds of the way between Hawaii and New Zealand, American Samoa consists of five inhabited volcanic islands and two coral atolls. Seventy-six square miles of land area compose the islands of American Samoa. The island Tutuila makes up about two-thirds of that area and is home to roughly 95% of the island's population. Among the islands of American Samoa is Rose Atoll, which is the southernmost point of United States territory.

What is American Samoa's maritime history?

Anthropologists believe that the first inhabitants of these islands arrived by sea from western Polynesian islands about 3,000 years ago. Further evidence indicates that the Samoan islanders traded with Fiji and Tonga for at least 800 years before the first Europeans arrived on the islands.

What sites are underwater?

Shipwrecks from ancient times to modern day may lie in the waters of American Samoa. While conflict and wars have caused a number of wrecks, nature has also been a powerful force in these islands. In 1889, the German Navy attacked a village in Samoa and destroyed some American property which resulted in three American warships arriving to engage the German force. Before either side could fire, a hurricane struck and sank all the ships, which resulted in a compulsory armistice because of the lack of warships.

Who takes care of American Samoa's underwater archeological sites?

The American Samoa Historic Preservation Office is responsible for identifying, evaluating, registering, interpreting, and protecting American Samoa's archeological and other cultural resources including shipwrecks. The American Samoa Coastal Management Program is charged with managing and protecting coastal resources (including archeological ones) within the coastal zone.

What permits do I need to study shipwrecks?

Land use permits for site excavation and undertakings that may affect archeological resources are issued by the Project Notification and Review System Board, and the resources must be evaluated by a trained cultural resource specialist. If a project will affect a significant resource, mitigation must be done. Entry to Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge, which contains almost 40,000 acres of submerged land, is by Special Use Permit issued by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.

Are there any underwater parks in American Samoa?

National Park of American Samoa
Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary

What laws concern underwater archeology in American Samoa?

Relevant statutes are codified at American Samoa Administrative Code 26.0220, et seq. and related regulations can be found at American Samoa Code Annotated 24.0501, et seq. These laws emphasize American Samoa's policy to protect unique areas and resources including designated or potential historic cultural or archeological sites.

MJB