Ocean Week, a celebration of “Firsts”
To kick off Ocean Week (May 12-19) in American Samoa, the Department of Commerce (Planning, Coastal Management Program and Coral Reef Initiative Office) along with Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, hosted a successful event of private and public sector partnerships to celebrate the importance of our territory’s ocean with a Community Block Party at Utulei Beach Park last Saturday, May 12.
Several groups, organizations, the public, families and youth, enjoyed live music, a zumba session and educational booths on ocean conservation, craft shopping and different ethnic foods from food vendors.
To kick off this Ocean Week, there was a historic nine-mile relay swim that was led by marathon swimmer Bruckner Chase that included instructors from the Toa o le Tai Ocean Heroes Program and members of the Department of Public Safety Marine Patrol Unit.
Samoa News spoke with the Superintendent for Fagatele Bay National Marine Sancturay Gene Brighouse, who said, “This year we wanted to bring families and the community together to celebrate the importance of our ocean environment.”
“We are so fortunate and blessed to have wonderful natural and cultural resources that surround us. We tend to take this for granted and we have been gifted with an opportunity to make a difference. These times are limited and this event was a call of action to bring together the private and public sector to reach our community to acknowledge that ‘Our Island’s Ocean Is Life’.
Esther Posala, a community member exclaimed, “This was a great event and I was happy to be part of it. I learned a lot from the educational booths and enjoyed the music, activities, food and was very happy to see the completion of the historic relay swim by Bruckner Chase and our very own local swimmers,” she said.
The event that kicked off Ocean Week, was the relay swim from Aunu’u Island to Utulei Beach Park that started at 8:00 a.m.and focused on how “we feel, think and act towards our oceans”.
After the first swimmer jumped in the water, and a rotation in and out of the water 5 1/2 hours later, the team made it to shore to an awaiting crowd of approximately 100 people, who cheered on the swimmers in the last hundred yards.
Leading the way was marathon swimmer Brucner Chase who said, “We made it. The waves were very, very high and rough, but we made it.”
When asked what kept the group going, Chase responded by saying, “All of us! What keeps us going, is American Samoa. This is Fa’a Samoa. What also kept us going was, what we all wanted to do in the water and what we all want everyone else to do together. This was about all of us,” he said.
The youngest swimmer of the group was also the only female in the historic swim. Eighteen-year old Christina Pulu, who is a Senior at Samoana High School, spoke about making the 9-mile relay.
She said, “The sea was really rough. But we kept encouraging one another to keep going. I trained everyday for this swim and got myself in shape. I was prepared and ready. For all of you women and girls out there, who have goals and dreams of doing something extraordinary, my advice to you is, go for it. Don’t give up or give in. Get yourself prepared for your goals and dreams and go for it,” said Pulu.
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