National Park of American Samoa

Vatia Coast
Vatia coastline and Pola Island in the National Park of American Samoa

The National Park of American Samoa is a United States national park spread across the islands of Tutuila, Ofu and T’au in the U.S. territory of American Samoa. Along with several national parks in Alaska and Isle Royale National Park in Michigan, it is one of the most remote and least visited of the national parks. It also holds the unique distinction of being the only U.S. national park located in the southern hemisphere. The park holds and protects tropical rain forests on the islands’ volcanic slopes, beaches and coral reefs as well as birds, fish and other wildlife that thrive within those environments.

I chose to visit the National Park of American Samoa partly out of fascination with its remoteness and an interest in South Pacific islands in general, but also out of a desire to visit as many national parks as I can in my lifetime. Coming from Taiwan where I reside for part of every year, the park seemed closer than if I were to come from my home in South Carolina. Still, getting there involved flying from Taiwan to Hong Kong, Hong Kong to New Zealand, New Zealand to Samoa, taking a long taxi ride across the island of Upolu in Samoa from one airport to another, and then flying on a small plane from Samoa across the International Date Line and back in time 24 hours to American Samoa. The entire journey took well over a day.

Once in American Samoa, traveling to the more remote sections of the park in the Manu’a Islands involved a flight on a well-used Twin Otter aircraft to T’au and chartering a small fishing boat that puttered across rough seas from there to Ofu. The splendid isolation coupled with the beauty of the island and the park was well with the journey and the adventure of getting there made my experience on the island that much more enjoyable.

In the coming weeks, I plan to share some photos and accompanying stories from my time in the National Park of American Samoa, so please check back or subscribe to this blog if you are interested.

Dragonfly

dragonfly
Dragonfly at Brick Pond Park in North Augusta, SC

Taking a walk through Brick Pond Park in my hometown of North Augusta, SC is one of my favorite ways to spend a morning or afternoon. I usually bring my camera with me as there are often birds, alligators, and other wildlife to see and photograph. On the day I took this photo there seemed to be no wildlife activity, so I thought my camera would go unused. Then I realized I had been ignoring the many dragonflies that were darting back and forth all around me. They turned out to be a fun subject to photograph. Occasionally, they would land on the bare, slender branches of trees lining the ponds’ edges and sit there completely still. This gave me time to experiment with different compositions. Opening the aperture of my telephoto lens to its widest setting isolated the dragonfly and branch and also rendered the pond in the background as a nice mix of soft colors. The evening light illuminated the dragonfly’s translucent wings, giving them a warm glow.

I captured this photo using a Nikon D600 camera and a Nikon 300mm f/4 lens with a 1.4x teleconverter.