Far out in the South Pacific, there’s a tropical island paradise. Known as the “Islands of Sacred Earth,” the territory of American Samoa is one of the United States’ most remote outposts. Its waters are home to stunningly beautiful coral reefs, including two of the world’s oldest and largest coral colonies on record. Many of these sites are protected inside America’s only National Marine Sanctuary and National Park south of the equator.

Coral reefs around the world are in serious decline, but American Samoa’s reefs have so far been relatively resilient in the face of local and global stressors. To better understand and protect the corals, the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa’s science team is setting up a multi-faceted monitoring program to document the reefs’ condition and any changes that might occur over time.

Together with their partners from the Coral Reef Advisory Group and the National Park of American Samoa, the scientists are trying to figure out what makes the territory’s coral reefs more resilient than others, and how lessons learned locally might help corals that are in decline elsewhere.

Learn more at changingseas.tv/season-12/1204/

Major funding for this program was provided by The Batchelor Foundation, encouraging people to preserve and protect America’s underwater resources, and by The Arthur Vining Davis Foundations, strengthening America’s future through education. Additional funding was provided by The William J. & Tina Rosenberg Foundation and by the Do Unto Others Trust.