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 and submit your own photos.
Jan. 6, 2016: Big news! NOAA is proposing to designate two new national marine sanctuaries to protect historically-important shipwrecks -- and we need YOU to weigh in! These two sites would be the first national marine sanctuaries designated since 2000. In Maryland (top image), NOAA is proposing a national marine sanctuary in Mallows Bay in the Potomac River, which contains more than 100 shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War to the present. In Wisconsin (bottom image), NOAA is proposing to designate a 1,075-square-mile area of Lake Michigan that holds 37 known shipwrecks, including Wisconsin’s two oldest known shipwrecks. Learn about the new proposals and how you can tell us what you think by clicking on the links above. (Top photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University; bottom photo: Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society)
How did you spend your holidays? Each year,Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary teams up with the National Audubon Society for the Stellwagen Bank Christmas Bird Count. Christmas Bird Count volunteers join sanctuary staff onboard the R/V Auk to survey a 15-mile-diameter area of the sanctuary. The data they collect can help assess the health of bird populations and of the sanctuary ecosystem. This year, citizen scientists counted triple the number of razorbills as last year's cruise, but spotted no northern fulmars or shearwaters, which are normally encountered in the sanctuary this time of year. They even spotted four tiny Atlantic puffins! Check out our video of a past Christmas Bird Count to learn more about this ongoing citizen science project.
As the year comes to a close, join us in celebrating the amazing sites of your National Marine Sanctuary System! What's your favorite ocean or Great Lakes memory from this year?
Indigenous tribes like the Quinault Indian Nation have depended on the ocean for millennia. Today, species like the razor clam provide Quinault members with sustenance and income. Watch our video to hear this Quinault Story from the Blue and to learn how Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary helps support culturally-important ecosystems.!
Already thinking ahead to warmer summer days? Take a virtual diving trip to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary!
How do you record the ocean soundtrack? With a hydrophone! Postdoctoral researcher Dr. Jenni Stanley has been deploying hydrophones at several national marine sanctuaries in order to characterize their soundscapes. Learn more in our video!
Do sharks always rule the seas? Think again! In places like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, it's not always predators that come out on top.
Nancy Foster Scholar Emily Aiken explains that through the scholarship and working with national marine sanctuaries, "I have the opportunity now to fully engage and reach my full potential -- and that has been incredible to experience." Check out our video to learn about Emily's Story from the Blue. Are you a graduate student in ocean sciences? Learn about the Nancy Foster Scholarship at fosterscholars.noaa.gov -- the application period is currently open!
Earlier this fall, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary joined students from Alcona Elementary School for the 2016 International Coastal Cleanup. Check out our video to learn how the sanctuary is working with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative to teach students the importance of keeping the Great Lakes clean!
Start your weekend off right with a tour of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!
Recently, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Reverb teamed up to show Guster what makes Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary so amazing. Check out our video to learn about the incredible whale watching opportunities the sanctuary's rich ecosystem supports, and how you can visit the sanctuary without even getting wet at the New England Aquarium!
The ocean covers approximately 70% of Earth's surface, and we all depend on it for everything from our climate and weather to the air we breathe. With that in mind, two years ago we launched Earth Is Blue, a celebration of the special ocean and Great Lakes places protected by the National Marine Sanctuary System. Check out some of the coolest clips from this year's videos! We can't wait to see what comes next.
This summer, Nancy Foster Scholarship alumna Dr. Nyssa Silbiger and her colleague Piper Wallingford researched the impacts of climate change on tidal ecosystems in several West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Key to their research was their mobile lab, the Bio Bus! Check out our video to learn about their adventures and research in national marine sanctuaries, and learn more about how you can become a Nancy Foster Scholar here!
Through his "Shipwreck Alley" class, high school teacher John Caplis has been connecting Alpena High School students directly to the nearby Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and through it, to Great Lakes history, ecology, geology, meteorology and more. "The idea that we're exposing two-thirds of every kid who graduates from Alpena High School to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its mission and the positive effect it has on the community -- I think that's a powerful thing," he says. Watch our video to experience John's Story from the Blue and to learn about the amazing educational collaboration his class has fostered.
Since 2002, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary has received more than 100 confirmed reports of entangled humpback whales, representing at least 70 animals. So how do experts at the sanctuary disentangle these enormous animals? Very carefully, and without getting in the water. Learn more here.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary superintendent Carol Bernthal first visited the Washington coast as a teenager. "I just remember walking out onto this point and looking out at the ocean and being overwhelmed by the power and the history of this place," she says. That moment inspired her, and today, Carol dedicates herself to protecting this amazing national marine sanctuary. Watch our video to experience her Story from the Blue. What special ocean places have inspired you?
Dive into Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and experience the underwater treasures of this amazing marine protected area!
How can archaeologists chart a World War II battlefield resting 700 feet down on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean? Maritime archaeologists from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary recently teamed up with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Project Baseline, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and SRI International to use manned submersibles to survey shipwrecks from a World War II battlefield off the coast of North Carolina. Check out what they found in our video!
What's a sea nettle? Learn about these Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary dwellers in our video!
In February and March of 2016, NOAA and partners conducted an expedition to explore deep waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Using the high-definition camera's on NOAA's Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle, scientists captured imagery of deep-sea biology and geology at depths ranging from 2,130 feet to 2.7 miles (650 - 4,300 meters) that had never been seen before.
On August 26, 2016, President Obama expanded the monument by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area to 582,578 square miles and making it the world's largest marine protected area. Portions of the video originally filmed outside of Monument boundaries are now protected.
This expedition is part of a three-year effort to gain basic knowledge about the largely unknown marine protected areas in the Pacific. The combined information gained during this effort will help managers to better understand, and therefore protect, these special places.
Video courtesy of NOAA; produced by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration.
Mooring buoys help protect fragile ecosystems in places like Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary by reducing the need for boats to drop anchor. But who maintains the sanctuary's vast collection of buoys? Meet the Florida Keys buoy team!
How do national marine sanctuaries protect maritime heritage resources like historic shipwrecks? Find out in this week's Earth Is Blue video. Thanks to NOAA Ocean Today for sharing it with us!
"Science is our measuring stick to figure out if our legends are true," explains Hanohano Na'ehu of Hui o Kuapā - Keawanui Fishpond in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. And by collaborating with scientists, Hanohano is confirming the stories that native Hawaiians have used for generations to guide how they care for nature and interact with the environment. Watch our video to hear Hanohano's Stories from the Blue!
Have you gotten into your sanctuary this summer? In June, in honor of our national Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration, nine Blue Star certified dive charter operators led underwater clean-ups throughout Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Together, the shops collected hundreds of pounds of marine debris! Many thanks to Rainbow Reef Dive Center for sharing their video of their cleanup efforts with us -- and for their dedication to keeping the Florida Keys healthy! (Videography & editing: Logan Campbell)
The wreck of the historic USS Monitor rests 240 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary -- so visiting it isn't exactly easy. Fortunately, there are many places that offer the opportunity to discover the wonders of this great ship without getting your feet wet! Check out the USS Monitor Center, located at The Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, in our video.
Nudibranchs may look something out of a science fiction movie, but they're actually closely related to snails! Find out more about these colorful creatures in our video.
Safe haven for marine animals, or perfect place to catch a wave? Both! National marine sanctuaries like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary protect hundreds of marine species -- and they're also perfect spots for responsible recreation. For Joe Green, ukulele craftsman and owner of Surf n Sea in O'ahu, the sanctuary protects important surf spots. Check out our video to learn more!
National marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments are the heart of many human communities, from native communities that have depended on the ocean for centuries and continue to do so, to vacationers who dive into sanctuary waters and surf their waves, to scientists and researchers who explore the ocean's depths. Join us each month as we tell stories from the blue celebrating the people at the center of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/stories. This month, we tell the story of Nathaniel Linville, owner of The Angling Company in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!
Many national marine sanctuaries are far offshore, but onshore exhibits around the country make it possible to get to know these special places without getting wet! Check out our video to learn about the partnership between Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Oakland Museum of California. Will you be visiting one of these exhibits soon?
Big news: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has proposed an expansion of its boundaries! Learn more about the proposed expansion in our video and find out how to comment on the proposal at flowergarden.noaa.gov/management/expansiondeis.htm
When you think of the might and power of the U.S. Navy, the first thing that comes to mind is not likely to be a tugboat. More likely, you picture a formidable aircraft carrier or a well-armed battleship, operated by hundreds and often thousands of sailors. A tug is an afterthought, if it's a thought at all. So why is the USS Conestoga -- a Navy fleet tug -- so important? Find out by watching this video.
What is coral bleaching and what can you do to help? Find out in our video! #EarthIsBlue Seaview Survey Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
The National Marine Sanctuary System is home to a magnificent array of birds. Learn about them in our video! #EarthIsBlue
Thirty years ago, Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary was designated to protect the fringing coral reef ecosystem off the island of Tutuila in American Samoa. In 2012, the sanctuary expanded to protect five additional areas in American Samoa and became National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Learn more about this extraordinary marine sanctuary in our video and at americansamoa.noaa.gov.
Earth Day is a perfect opportunity to think about how you can protect ocean inhabitants! Trash travels -- about 50 tons of marine debris makes its way to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands each year, and those islands are remote and mostly uninhabited by humans. But by reducing the amount of waste you produce and participating in marine debris cleanups near you, you can help keep these special places clean and protect the animals that call them home! Learn more at marinedebris.noaa.gov.
From bottlenose dolphins in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to spinner dolphins in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, many species of dolphin frequent your national marine sanctuaries.
What's a turtle cleaning station? Check it out in our video and learn more here.
Ninety-five years ago the 56 brave crew members of the USS Conestoga gave their lives in service for their country when this U.S. Navy tug sank in what is now Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Check out our video to learn about the mission to identify the lost wreck of the Conestoga and the importance of this historic ship's final resting place -- and stay tuned for a longer video coming this Memorial Day celebrating this valiant crew. Naval History & Heritage Command
What lives in the deep seas of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument? Over the past few weeks, researchers aboard the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer have been finding out! They've been using a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to dive thousands of meters beneath the surface of the ocean. Check out our video to see what they found, and click here to learn more about the expedition. (Footage courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana.)
Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron protects one of America's best-preserved and nationally significant collections of shipwrecks. But you don't have to be a diver to visit many of the wrecks within the sanctuary! Many of them are shallow enough to explore with just a snorkel.
Dive in to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! The rocky habitats of Cordell Bank emerge from the soft sediments of the continental shelf seafloor off the coast of California. This national marine sanctuary provides a home to colorful and abundant invertebrates, algae and fishes, while its productive waters attract migratory seabirds and marine mammals from all around the Pacific Ocean. What can you spot in our video?
How's your invasive species knowledge? In addition to the well-known lionfish, several other invasive species have moved in to national marine sanctuaries in recent years. Orange cup corals heavily colonize artificial surfaces in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and have also migrated onto natural reef surfaces in Flower Garden Banks. Zebra and quagga mussels are a problem in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where they damage the ecosystem and degrade historic shipwrecks. Learn more about invasive species -- and how climate change may be affecting invasions -- in our video.
From Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary octopuses are found in many of our national marine sanctuaries. Check out our video to learn about these intelligent ocean creatures. Thank you to NOAA's Office of Exploration and Research for some amazing footage!
Happy World Whale Day! Each winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to mate, calve, and raise their young. The sanctuary is a spectacular place to watch these whales! It's important, though, to always give humpback whales and other marine animals plenty of space: whale calves are especially vulnerable to boat strikes as they often rest just beneath the surface. You can report injured or endangered whales to NOAA by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit 15240)
The Fisherman in the Classroom program invites commercial fishermen from Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary into the classroom to help students understand how they are connected to the ocean. Watch our video to learn more!
After a relatively short career as a freighter -- in which it carried what was then the largest load ever on the Great Lakes -- the James Davidson ran aground on October 4, 1883 in what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Last summer, a team of volunteers from Alpena Community College and Grand Valley State University used an ROV to investigate the wreck of the Davidson. Check out what they found! Special thanks to Tim Parsell for sharing this video with us.
Do you have video or photos that you've taken in a national marine sanctuary? Learn how you can submit it for a chance to see it on our social media here. (Video: Tim Parsell/ACC/GVSU; Music: Kevin MacLeod [incompetech.com])
The F6F Hellcat was a crucial aircraft in the Pacific Theater of World War II. Sadly, more than 300 of these aircraft found a final resting place in the Hawaiian archipelago. Today, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and its partners -- like XL Catlin Seaview Survey -- are able to survey and document these historic wrecks, many of which now act as artificial reefs. Learn more about a recent survey in our video. Naval History & Heritage Command
What's the difference between seals and sea lions? Find out in our video!
In 1871, a fleet of 33 whaling ships sailing off the north coast of Alaska were warned by the local Inupiat people that it was going to be a bad weather year. They didn't listen. When the wind shifted and the ice came in, all 33 ships were trapped. While all the crew members miraculously survived, the ships went down, where they were lost until this September when researchers from our Maritime Heritage Program went to find them. Check out our video to see what they found.
Happy new year from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's green sea turtles!
Did you know that moray eels -- like this one filmed in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary -- have two sets of jaws? These eels seize their prey with the first set, then use the second jaw to pull their catch back toward the esophagus.
Zooplankton like krill may be small, but they are mighty! Because so many marine animals depend on these tiny animals for food, their size and abundance can tell researchers a lot about how healthy an ecosystem is. When there's lots of krill, there also tends to be plenty of seabirds and marine mammals around. Researchers from Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary work with ACCESS Partnership to survey the zooplankton in the sanctuary -- check out our video to learn more!
In early October, thousands of pelagic red crabs washed ashore in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. These crabs usually live offshore of Baja California, but warm waters, likely linked to El Niño, have transported them north. The last time these crabs washed ashore in the sanctuary was 1982-83, also an El Niño year. Watch our video to learn more!
Researchers from Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument recently teamed up to conduct a survey of the coral reefs throughout the Main Hawaiian Islands, which are currently being affected by a mass bleaching event. Coral bleaching occurs when corals are stressed -- in this case, by warm ocean water -- and expel the symbiotic algae that they need to survive. Together with researchers from the University of Hawaii Sea Grant College Program, the NOAA Hawaiian Islands Sentinel Site Cooperative, NOAA Fisheries Service Coral Reef Ecosystem Program, and the State of Hawai'i, sanctuary researchers collected data that will help them evaluate where bleaching is occurring and which species are most affected. Check out our video to learn more! #CoralsWeek
This September, scientists surveyed the deep reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. What they found was amazing: a high abundance of species found only in the Hawaiian Islands and specimens and photographs of potential new species of fish, algae, and invertebrates!