American Samoa's thorny issue

Healthy Coast
A coral with damage from feeding crown-of-thorns starfish. Large crown-of-thorns starfish outbreaks can destroy coral reefs. Photo: NOAA

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.

Visit to learn more about recent collaborative efforts to hold the crown-of-thorns starfish population in American Samoa at bay.