Scientists in American Samoa are tacking an outbreak of crown-of-thorns starfish (Acanthaster planci), known locally as alamea, which live on the archipelago's reefs and feed off of live stony corals.
Over the past two years, the local crown-of-thorns starfish population has exploded to outbreak levels. Similar outbreaks in the past destroyed essential fish habitat and caused negative long-term effects on local fisheries. Land-based pollution and the subsequent runoff of nutrients like nitrogen and phosphorus are believed to cause most outbreaks.
The NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program was established in 2000 by the Coral Reef Conservation Act. Headquartered in Silver Spring, Maryland, the program is part of NOAA's Office for Coastal Management.