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.
Our national marine sanctuaries are places of inspiration. Within their waters and along their shores, you can find vibrant tapestries of marine life, ancient mysteries of our past and thriving communities of men and women who have relied on the sea for generations. Sanctuaries are places where anyone can go to experience the power and beauty of the ocean and form lasting memories in spectacular natural settings, from the vibrant coral reefs of American Samoa to the towering kelp forests of Monterey Bay. These underwater treasures are sources of national pride, and when we take care of them, we are protecting part of what makes America great.
Building America's Future
NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is committed to building a stronger, more resilient future for America's communities, ecosystems and economy. A healthy ocean is the basis for thriving recreation, tourism and commercial activities that drive coastal economies, and the sanctuaries work with diverse partners and stakeholders to promote responsible, sustainable ocean uses that ensure the health of our most valued ocean places. Through visitor centers and collaborations with aquariums and museums, sanctuaries also serve as focal points for local engagement and economic development in communities across America.
Protecting Special Places
For the past 40 years, our national marine sanctuaries have worked to protect special places in America's ocean and Great Lakes waters, from the site of a single Civil War shipwreck to a vast expanse of ocean surrounding remote coral reefs and tiny atolls. Backed by one of the nation's strongest pieces of ocean conservation legislation, the sanctuaries seek to preserve the extraordinary scenic beauty, biodiversity, historical connections and economic productivity of 14 of our most precious underwater treasures. By acting as responsible stewards of these special places, we strengthen our nation now and for future generations.