Corals and the NFL: Why American Samoa's corals and football players are so tough
For thousands of years the Samoan culture has taken its strength from the ocean. It makes the people…the coral…the coaches…the football players…TOUGH!!
Strength comes from conditioning, whether you are a football star in American Samoa or a coral in the lagoons of Ofu Island. Samoan kids are naturally tough from the chores they do while growing up, like working on taro farms. Samoan football players do a lot of their strength training on the beach and in the ocean.
Ofu could be one of the best training grounds for climate change in the Pacific. The corals here are exercised by low tides and high temperatures and as they experience these high temperatures they become tougher and tougher.
A back reef lagoon that heats up enormously during low tides in summer might be a remarkably good "training ground" for corals to become strong in the face of these kinds of stresses. By experiencing high temperatures periodically, then relaxing, then again, that kind of "exercise regime" might make them stronger and stronger.
Man-made stresses on corals are like an athlete being injured. Even the strongest football player is not immune to injury, and even the strongest corals are not immune to man-made stresses like anchors, dynamite, pollution, or overfishing.
What happens in the ocean and the training that the Samoan football players put themselves through is very similar - the pounding of the waves, the currents, everything that has to do with the water. These are the same types of forces that these football players face in training or during a game.
You might think that if the corals are strong we shouldn't worry about them. These strong corals in American Samoa, like a strong athlete, are an investment. We should keep that investment because that's a legacy for American Samoa as global climate change sweeps over the world.