Marine National Monument Program

Marine National Monument Program

Rose Atoll Marine National Monument

Establishment: In January 2009, the Rose Atoll Marine National Monument was established, by Presidential Proclamation, approximately 130 nautical miles east-southeast of Pago Pago Harbor, American Samoa. Rose Atoll is the easternmost Samoan island and the southernmost point of the United States.

Size: The Monument area consists of approximately 13,436 square miles (34,800 square kilometers) and the outer boundary is approximately 50 nautical miles from the mean low water line of Rose Atoll.

Management: The Monument is cooperatively managed by the Secretary of Commerce (NOAA), the Secretary of the Interior (U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) in cooperation with the Department of State, the Department of Defense, and the Government of American Samoa. The Monument also encompasses the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and is part of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Click here to view the Proclamation.

Unique Features: Rose Atoll remains one of the most pristine atolls in the world. The marine environment around Rose Atoll supports a dynamic reef ecosystem that is home to a diverse assemblage of marine species, many of which are threatened or endangered. One of the most striking features of Rose Atoll is the pink hue of fringing reef caused by the dominance of coralline algae, which is the primary reef-building species. Though there are roughly 100 species of stony corals, the shallow reefs are dominated by crustose coralline algae, making them distinctive from those found in other Samoan islands. The marine area provides isolated, undisturbed nesting grounds for green and hawksbill turtles and contains the largest number of nesting turtles in American Samoa. The waters within and surrounding the Rose Atoll Monument are frequented by numerous large predators such as whitetip, blacktip, and gray reef sharks, snappers, jacks, groupers, and barracudas. Species that have faced depletion elsewhere, some of which have declined worldwide by as much as 98 percent, are found in abundance at Rose Atoll, including giant clams, Maori wrasse, large parrotfishes, and blacktip, whitetip, and gray reef sharks. Humpback whales, pilot whales, and porpoise have all been spotted at Rose Atoll. There are 272 species of reef fish living within the monument area, with seven species described for the first time by scientists at Rose. Few relatively undisturbed islands remain in the world and Rose Atoll is one of the last remaining refuges for the seabird and turtle species of the Central Pacific.

Around the Monument
Featured Stories in the Pacific Islands

Rose Atoll Marine National Monument Gets Interactive Underwater "Street View"

The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument (RAMNM) is a protected area covering some 13,450 square miles of land, water, and reef in and around the Rose Atoll in American Samoa. Now, thanks to NOAA and its partnering agencies, you can take a virtual tour of portions of the monument's pristine fringing reefs using Google Street View.

The Channel at Rose Atoll, American Samoa by Google Map

The underwater mapping was part of the Catlin Seaview Survey, which has been working with Google since 2012 to "scientifically record the world's coral reefs and reveal them to all in high-resolution, 360-degree panoramic vision," according to the survey project's website.

The survey's crew uses specialized equipment to take thousands of panoramas of the world's coral reefs that are then stitched together using Google's famous Street View mapping technology. This results in three-dimensional slices of individual reefs, which viewers can virtually dive around in at their leisure.

Bringing the Catlin Seaview Survey to RAMNM

The Rose Atoll Marine National Monument encompasses the Rose Atoll National Wildlife Refuge and is part of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa (NMSAS). Represented by the National Marine Fisheries Service and the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, NOAA co-manages RAMNM with the U.S Fish and Wildlife Service, with cooperation and collaboration by the Government of American Samoa.

In November of 2013, NMSAS superintendent Gene Brighouse and Kalewa Correa of the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument discussed the potential for American Samoa to be mapped using Google Street View. Though the original goal was to map the land area of American Samoa (particularly its sanctuary sites, including RAMNM), Correa eventually brought the Catlin Seaview Survey into the fold to also map American Samoa's underwater treasures.

The Seaview team was initially drawn to the idea of mapping Fale Bommie, known colloquially as "Big Momma" – a Porites coral that may be the largest coral head in the world - but later realized the benefits of also capturing the wondrous coral reefs of RAMNM.

NOAA Fisheries Pacific Islands Regional Office soon got involved, providing crucial funds that made charters to Rose Atoll and other areas possible.

Mapping RAMNM

In December of 2014, NOAA, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Google Street View, and Catlin Seaview Survey brought the project to fruition.

The Google Street View team used their Street View Trekker backpack camera system to capture images covering 26.5 miles of hiking, 181 miles of driving, and 21 hours of riding in small boats across American Samoa, particularly the sanctuary sites and surrounding areas.

Similarly, the Catlin Seaview Survey team used their underwater camera sled to capture images of the coral reefs across American Samoa, including Big Momma and the channel leading into the Rose Atoll lagoon. They conducted two full dives to collect panoramic images for the Google Street View of RAMNM.

"The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa hopes this project will produce an accurate record to monitor coral reef change over time, provide virtual dive and site experiences for people to Fagatele, Fagalua/Fogama'a, Aunu'u, Ta'u, and Muliava (Rose Atoll), and show to the world how special and important these remote islands and surrounding coral area," Brighouse says.

For more information:

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

U.S. Fish and Wildlife Rose Atoll Marine National Monument

American Samoa Government