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Get Into Your Sanctuary 2018 virtual reality dive sessions

Peau, Misaalefua John Hudson — who also took the virtual dive — and a few youngsters who were part of the dive session at Cost-U-LessThree of the more than 300 kids and adults who took the virtual reality diving tour this past SaturdayOfficials and staff members of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary

Pago Pago, AMERICAN SAMOA — Over 300 adults and children showed up for the Get Into Your Sanctuary (GIYS) 2018 virtual reality diving sessions, hosted by officials and staff members of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa this past Saturday.

Three dive locations were set up: Cost-U-Less, Neil's ACE Home Center, and Carl's Jr.

Each session was initially designated to serve 15 people at a time; but according to regional officer Gene Brighouse, there were moments when they had to go all the way up to 25 because so many people were signing up.

Saturday was National Get Into Your Sanctuary Day so the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa joined the rest of the Nation in celebrating, by offering free virtual diving sessions for locals of all ages.

Tours included a close-up of the Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary, the first of the local sites to be listed under the NMSAS system; and also the underwater Valley of Giants in Ta'u, Manu'a where Big Momma - believed to be one of the biggest in the world - is located. Kids were amazed when they were able to see marine life in the Florida Keys.

After each 15-minute session, participants were asked questions about what they viewed. Those who answered correctly received cool prizes.

NMSAS acting superintendent Lelei Peau told Samoa News that the virtual dives are available year-round at the Tauese P. F. Sunia Ocean Center. They just wanted to take it out to the community last Saturday in celebration of National GIYS Day.