National Marine Sanctuary System

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of 14 marine protected areas encompassing more than 170,000 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 Marine National Monument.

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.

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

earth is blue logo

When astronauts first launched toward the moon and looked back at our planet for the first time, they made an unexpected discovery: Earth is Blue.  Earth is Blue is asocial media awareness campaign to highlight NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System and its fourteen special marine protected areas across the country. The campaign began on October 24, 2014, the 42nd anniversary of the system, and shares one photo each day and one video each week highlighting the wonder and beauty of these special places and the work NOAA does to protect them.

photo of a lionfish

Oct. 2, 2015: It's National Seafood Month! Did you know that by eating lionfish you can help reef ecosystems in the southeastern United States, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico? Lionfish are highly invasive species in these areas, and due to their voracious appetites and lack of natural predators, they're rapidly edging out the native species reefs need in order to remain healthy. Save a reef -- eat a lionfish! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) #EarthIsBlue

Join Shannon Lyday and Jon Martinez on a tour of Honolua Bay in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! We've been working with XL Catlin Seaview Survey to take 360 images of coral reefs across the sanctuary system so that we can track the health of these amazing habitats. ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬

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