Published online by Cambridge University Press: 21 July 2021
Coral skeletal structures can provide a robust record of nuclear bomb produced 14C with valuable insight into air-sea exchange processes and water movement with applications to fisheries science. To expand these records in the South Pacific, a coral core from Tutuila Island, American Samoa was dated with density band counting covering a 59-yr period (1953–2012). Seasonal signals in elemental ratios (Sr/Ca and Ba/Ca) and stable carbon (δ13C) values across the coral core corroborated the well-defined annual band structure and highlighted an ocean climate shift from the 1997–1998 El Niño. The American Samoa coral 14C measurements were consistent with other regional records but included some notable differences across the South Pacific Gyre (SPG) at Fiji, Rarotonga, and Easter Island that can be attributed to decadal ocean climate cycles, surface residence times and proximity to the South Equatorial Current. An analysis of the post-peak 14C decline associated with each coral record indicated 14C levels are beginning to merge for the SPG. This observation, coupled with otolith measurements from American Samoa, reinforces the perspective that bomb 14C dating can be performed on fishes and other marine organisms of the region using the post-peak 14C decline to properly inform fisheries management in the South Pacific.