Tuesday, December 20, 2011

American Samoa - National Park of American Samoa

National Park of American Samoa
Pola Island, in the National Park of American Samoa, is on the north coast of Tutuila Island and is an important nesting area for sea birds, such as the booby.

Sent by Samuel, a Park Ranger in the National Park of American Samoa.

This is from Wikipedia : The National Park of American Samoa is a national park on the American territory of American Samoa, distributed across three separate islands: Tutuila, Ofu-Olosega, and Ta‘ū. The park includes coral reefs and rain forest and is popular for hiking, snorkeling, and scuba diving, although the primary purpose of the park is that of preservation of Samoa's unique natural resources. Of the park's 10,500 acres (4,200 ha), 7,970 acres (3,230 ha) is land and 2,550 acres (1,030 ha) is water. It is the only American national park south of the equator.

The Tutuila unit of the park is on the north end of the island near Pago Pago. It is separated by Mount Alava (1,610 feet (490 m)) and the Maugaloa Ridge and includes the Amalau Valley, Craggy Point, Tafeu Cove, and the islands of Pola and Manofa. It is the only part of the park accessible by car and attracts the vast majority of people. The park lands include a trail to the top of Mount Alava and historic World War II gun emplacement sites at Breakers Point and Blunt's Point. The trail runs along the ridge in dense forest, north of which the land slopes steeply away to the ocean.

Because of its remote location, diversity among the terrestrial species is low. Approximately 30% of the plants and one bird species (the Samoan Starling) are endemic to the archipelago.

Three species of bat are the only native mammals: two large fruit bats (Samoa Flying-fox and Insular Flying-fox) and a small insectivore, the Pacific Sheath-Tailed Bat. They serve an important role in pollinating the island's plants. The sheath-tailed bat was nearly eliminated by Cyclone Val in 1991. Native reptiles include the Pelagic Gecko, Polynesian Gecko, Mourning gecko, Stump-toed Gecko, Pacific Boa and seven skink species. A major role for the park is to control and eradicate invasive plant and animal species such as feral pigs and rats, which threaten the park's ecosystem. There are several bird species, the most predominant being the Wattled Honeyeater, Samoan Starling, and Pacific Imperial-pigeon. Other unusual birds include the Tahiti Petrel, the Spotless Crake, and the rare (in this locality) Many-coloured Fruit-dove.

The islands are mostly covered by tropical rainforest, including cloud forest on Tau and lowland ridge forest on Tutuila. Most plants arrived by chance from Southeast Asia. There are 487 native flowering plants and ferns and over 100 endemic plant species.

The surrounding waters are filled with a diversity of marine life, including sea turtles, humpback whales, about 890 species of fish, and 200 coral species. Some of the largest living coral colonies (Porites) in the world are at Tau Island.

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