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Samoan Sanctuary Expansion Official

WASHINGTON (CN) - The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration has announced that a July rule expanding and renaming the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary in American Samoa is now in effect.

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Noting that the sanctuary's management plan had not been updated in 26 years, the NOAA cited the "tremendous advancement in marine discovery and exploration, marine conservation science, and ecosystem-based management" over the past quarter century as factors in its decision to add five additional units to the sanctuary to protect American Samoa's coral reefs and endangered species, the rule said.

The sanctuary, originally just .25 square miles, now encompasses 13581.21 square miles, according to the rule.

Because the sanctuary now includes more areas within the archipelago and extends beyond the eroded volcanic crater in Fagatele Bay that gave rise to the sanctuary's original name, the agency changed the name to the American Samoa National Marine Sanctuary.

"The Sanctuary contains a unique and vast array of tropical marine organisms, including corals and a diverse tropical reef ecosystem with endangered and threatened species, such as the hawksbill and green sea turtles, and marine mammals like the Pacific bottlenose dolphin," the agency noted.

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