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NCCOS Research Project

A Baseline Chemical Contaminants Study of Marine Sediments in Nu’uuli Pala Lagoon, American Samoa

Primary Contact(s): andrew.mason@noaa.gov
This project began in July 2017 and is ongoing.

We are assessing the scope and extent of land-based sources of chemical contaminants in the marine sediments of Nu’uuli Pala Lagoon in American Samoa. Currently, there are no contaminant data for the lagoon, and there are only limited data for one of the streams that empties into the lagoon. We will provide a baseline assessment of both organic and inorganic chemical contaminants, including pesticides and pharmaceuticals. NOAA’s Coral Reef Conservation Program is funding this study.

Why We Care
Lagoons like Nu’uuli Pala are diverse and productive ecosystems that provide critical habitat for many species of economically important juvenile fish. However, lagoons face a variety of stressors that threaten their function, such as land-based sources of pollution. By identifying what stressors are present and in what proportions, managers can make more informed decisions about mitigating potential impacts and maximizing the benefits these environments provide.

What We Are Doing
In July of 2017, we sampled sediments throughout Nu’uuli Pala to assess chemical contamination in this lagoon ecosystem. We are analyzing these sediments for an extended suite of chemical contaminants. This extended suite includes hydrocarbons, pesticides (legacy and current use), trace and heavy metals, brominated flame retardants, perfluorinated compounds, pharmaceuticals and personal care products, and bacterial indicators. Our results will provide the baseline data requested by local natural resource managers, and will help identify future projects to reduce land-based sources of pollution and restore and conserve critical habitats.

Benefits of Our Work
Data generated from this study will be the first of its kind for the Nu’uuli Pala Lagoon and will be valuable to coastal managers who need to assess the relationship between land-based sources of pollution and the overall health of the lagoon. Ultimately, data products from this study will help inform future management of the lagoon.

Next Steps
Once we complete laboratory analysis of samples from the July 2017 field mission, project data will be available online via the National Status and Trends database, and will be synthesized, including statistical and geospatial analysis, in a technical memorandum.

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