National Marine Sanctuary System

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

map highlighting sanctuary locations Thunder Bay Flower Garden Banks Stellwagen Bank Monitor Gray's Reef Florida Keys Channel Islands Monterey Bay Cordell Bank Gulf of the Farallones Olympic Coast Papahanaumokuakea Hawaii Humpback Whales American Samoa mallows-bay lake-michigan

Virtual Dives

Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet!

Dive Into Your Sanctuaries

earth is blue logo

When you look at our planet from space, one thing is abundantly clear: Earth Is Blue. Our planet is an ocean planet, and whether you live near the coast or a thousand miles from it, the ocean is part of your life. From providing the food we eat to determining our weather, the ocean matters to each of us -- and the National Marine Sanctuary System protects this vital resource.

With that in mind, the photos and videos of Earth Is Blue bring these ocean treasures directly to smartphones and computers all over the world, where they can serve as a tangible reminder that no matter where you are, the ocean and Great Lakes are in your hands. We hope these images inspire you to help care for our ocean and to spread the word that Earth isn't green -- it's blue.

Join us on instagram logo twitter logo facebook logo youtube logo youtube logo and submit your own photos.

marine invertebrates covering a shipwreck

What happens to a shipwreck when it rests on the ocean floor? It gets overrun by marine invertebrates, like this wreck in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Sponges and anemones start out as small, free-floating larvae. These larvae float around until they sense a good habitat — including old shipwrecks! Once they settle, they grow into bottom-dwelling creatures that form the backbone of amazing biodiverse communities. (Photo: Deborah Marx/NOAA)

Peter Taliva'a is the boat captain for National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. To him, the sanctuary community is strong because "we work together. Not individually, but as a family." Watch our video to hear Peter's Story from the Blue.

Stories from the Blue

Stories from the Blue celebrate the people at the center of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.

What does the National Marine Sanctuary System mean to you?

Sanctuary Nomination Process

For the first time in two decades, NOAA invites communities across the nation to nominate their most treasured places in our marine and Great Lakes waters for consideration as national marine sanctuaries.

In response to ongoing widespread interest from the public, NOAA has launched a new, locally driven sanctuary nomination process developed with input from more than 18,000 public comments. Throughout the nomination process, NOAA will be available to answer questions and provide guidance to nominating communities and other interested parties. NOAA will also update nominators on the progress of the agency's review of their nomination.

www.nominate.noaa.gov

Actor and activist Edward James Olmos lends his voice to the new sanctuary nomination process and offers a challenge to the American people. Watch in HD

Sanctuary Spotlight

Visit a Sanctuary

National marine sanctuaries are ideal destinations for travelers who enjoy a diversity of recreational activities.

Plan your visit

Get Involved

Volunteers help to ensure marine sanctuaries remain America's underwater treasures for future generations.

How you can help