American Samoa Flag

American Samoa Travel Guide

Green Sea Turtle
Because the green sea turtle and its eggs are taken for human food, it is in danger of extinction. Fortunately the shell is too thin
to be made into jewelry.

Fauna

Some 64 species of birds are found in American Samoa, including forest birds such as the lupe (Pacific pigeon), manutagi (purple-capped fruit dove), ve'a (banded rail), and 'iao (wattled honeyeater), and seabirds like the fua'o (re/emooted booby) and tava'e (white-tailed tropicbird).

The rarest of the territory's birds is the manuma (many-colored fruit dove), with only about 50 birds left in the wild. The only food the manuma has ever been observed to eat is the fruit of the aoa (banyan) tree, and the bird is now facing extinction largely due to the disappearance of the aoa, many of which have been cut down by humans or blown over by hurricanes.

Hurricanes have also been blamed for an 85 percent drop in populations of the two species of pe'a (flying fox fruit bat) between 1987 and 1992. The white-throated flying fox is often seen soaring above the ridge tops around sunset as the bats leave their roosts to feed at night. The Samoan flying fox is more active during the morning and late afternoon. These native bats eat fruit and pollen, and are an essential link in the pollination of plants of the rainforest.

Introduced bulbuls and mynahs are now common on Tutuila, but in the Manu'a Group there are only native birds. In an attempt to protect Samoa's endangered wildlife, a ban on hunting birds and bats was enacted in 1992.

Over 1,000 species of tropical fish dwell along American Samoa's coasts (twice the number found around Hawaii). Only 120 female hawksbill and green turtles still nest here, and there's a US$10,000 fine for killing a sea turtle. Humpback whales visit American Samoa from August to October to bear their young in these warm waters before returning to Antarctica, where they pass the southern summer. Sperm whales also call occasionally.

Two land snakes exist, neither poisonous. The blind potted soil snake, which looks rather like a plump earthworm, was introduced to Tutuila accidentally. The two-meter-long Pacific boa of Ta'u is found on islands from Indonesia to Samoa. Both are extremely rare and it's highly unlikely you'll ever see one.