National Park of American Samoa
The National Park of American Samoa boasts extraordinary natural resources, almost all of it available for hikers, birders, snorkelers and divers. On three different islands, visitors can experience cloudforests, rainforests, steep volcanic cliffs rising from white sand beaches, and pristine coral reefs sheltering over 900 species of fish and several species of faisua (giant clams). Malie (reef sharks) forage on the reef. Tafolā (Humpback whales) can be seen seasonally, while mumua (spinner dolphins) inhabit the nearshore waters year-round. Look for the peʻa (Samoan Flying Fox), a fruit bat, foraging in the early evenings. The birdlife is varied and deserves close attention. White-tailed tropicbirds nest in the high cliffs, while segasegamauʻu
(Cardinal and Wattled Honeyeaters) forage continually for nectar in the trees. Also, look for the manu aliʻi (Purple Swamphen) in thick cover. Uū (giant coconut crabs) wander around the island at night, scavenging both plants and animals.
This park is rich in Samoan culture past and present. The islands of Samoa belong to Western Polynesia, along with Fiji and Tonga. People have been in this region for perhaps 3500 years. Indeed, the peoples of Samoa still live much as they always have done within the boundaries of the national park. It was only by working closely with local Samoan chiefs and the villagers under their rule that the designation of this 50th national park was possible. The past is present throughout much of the park’s three units—archeological sites and ruins are testament to a long relationship between Samoans and this land and sea. Gravesites, star mounds, and agricultural terraces are just a few features of the complex past. The National Park Service continues to survey for further sites in order to understand the complex context of the lands and peoples contained within the boundaries of the park.
Coconut crabs are really just very big hermit crabs (4-7 lbs.) who canʻt swim, and which may live for 50 or more years.