The number of native plants and animals in Samoa are somewhat
limited since the country is an island nation. However, Samoa boasts a more diverse
plant system than any other nation in Polynesia with the exception of Hawai'i
(in the United States); in some ways Samoa
boasts more plant diversity than even New Zealand. However,
the native land animal life is almost non-existent. It is the migrating birds and
sea life that has had the most significant presence in creating today's plant
and animal life. Much of what is found on the islands today was introduced in pre-historic
times by the migrating people, birds, winds, and ocean currents.
As an island nation that rose from the sea floor there were no native mammals in
Samoa, although a few bat species arrived thousands of years
ago. The most famous of these is the "flying fox," a large bat found throughout
the country. Some species of rats also made their way to the islands hundreds, if
not thousands of years ago. Other than this, no land mammals existed on Samoa until
the arrival of the earliest people, who likely came from the region of New Guinea
and may have brought with them dogs and pigs, two animals that eventually made their
way to Samoa.
The seas are also home to mammals as dolphins and whales call the surrounding waters
home. These waters are also filled with thousands of fish, shellfish, and other
forms of sea life. This sea life includes surgeonfish, clownfish, sailfish, puffer
fish, butterfly fish, grouper, barracuda, tuna, mackerel, marlin, mahi-mahi, shrimp,
krill, crab, seahorses, manta rays, sharks, jellyfish, starfish, sea urchins, coral,
as well as the famous and culturally-important Palolo Reef Worm among many others.
This sea life and the islands have also attracted numerous birds, including many
that feed off the animals in the sea. The bird life in Samoa
includes doves, parrots, ducks, heron, terns, frigate birds, pigeons, cuckoos, and
the locally famous manumea among others.
The reptilian and amphibious life is fairly limited for the same reasons the mammalian
life is limited. The most common of these animals are those adapted to the water
and swimming as sea turtles can be found in the nearby waters. Land species have
again made their way to the islands in numerous methods and today lizards, snakes,
and geckos are among the most common of these animals.
The insect and other small animal life is fairly diverse as many insects can fly
or float and have made their way to Samoa. These animals include butterflies, moths,
beetles, bees, ants, flies, snails, spiders, mosquitos, and worms among others.
The plant life, as mentioned, is relatively diverse for a small country, especially
an isolated island nation. The diversity is best noted in the form of trees and
ferns as many species of each are widespread and the variety is quite diverse. However
it is only really in the tree and fern species that the plant life in
Samoa is diverse. Despite this locally diverse plant life, most seeds arrived
to the islands through wind, water, and birds so today most of the plants on Samoa
are no different than neighboring islands. These foreign plants, that now thrive
in the country, include coconuts, taro, breadfruit, bananas, yams, arrowroot, lemons,
and sugarcane among others.
There is also a presence of other trees and plants, including orchids, hibiscus,
eucalyptus, frangipani, ferns, mosses, mahogany trees, mangrove trees, and pandanus