earth is blue

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.

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photo of restored yellow-greenish coral

Dec. 2, 2016: Shallow-water corals aren't the only corals in the sea! In deep waters, specially-adapted species of coral thrive. In turn, these corals provide habitat for other organisms, like shrimp, crabs, and fish. This bubblegum coral was spotted supporting a brittle star in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Learn more about deep-sea corals here. (Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)

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.

photo of yellow greenish coral that has been restored
Dec. 1, 2016: When boats like recreational or commercial fishing vessels ground, they can sometimes can cause significant damage to coral reef structure. But following damage, restoration specialists at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary work hard to restore coral reefs to healthy conditions. This site at South Carysfort Reef in the Florida Keys was damaged in April 2015, crushing and dislodging mustard hill coral and purple sea fans. By reattaching dislodged corals with cement, scientists restabilized loose colonies at the grounding site. A year later, the 60 reattached corals appear to be thriving! By using nautical charts and following safe boating and anchoring practices, you can help prevent future reef damage. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of orange coral
Nov. 30, 2016: Corals like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are gorgeous, diverse marine species found throughout our world's ocean. But did you know that corals actually provide humans several critical services? In addition to sustaining biodiversity and providing us food, medicine, and recreational opportunities, coral reefs can serve as a critical, natural defense for coastal communities. Healthy coral reefs like those in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa can diffuse much of the energy of hard-hitting ocean waves before waves ever reach the shore, helping to protect coastlines from damage, especially in the event of a large storm. (Photo: Tom Moore/NOAA)

photo of a bleached coral
Nov. 29, 2016: Corals are among the most sensitive organisms to rising ocean temperature, with even the slightest temperature increase impacting the delicate relationship between corals and their symbiotic algae known as zooxanthellae. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which builds up and acts as a heat-trapping blanket, warming the planet. Some of this heat is absorbed by the ocean. As water temperatures rise, corals become stressed and expel the tiny zooxanthellae that provide them with food. This process makes corals appear "bleached," as seen in this photo from National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Over time, these bleached corals can die. It's up to all of us to do our part to protect corals and the ecosystems that depend on them from warming temperatures. By working with our communities to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use, we can all come together to protect the future health of coral reefs. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of a mithrax crab and coral
Nov. 28, 2016: It's Corals Week! Coral reefs are thought to contain the greatest level of biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world -- even more than tropical rainforests. Hundreds of marine organisms rely on coral reefs for food, shelter, mating grounds and more, like this mithrax crab in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. While some species eat coral, others protect corals from algae overgrowth and filter water surrounding corals, recycling nutrients and removing debris. Mithrax crabs like this one munch on algae and decaying material on the reef, obtaining food while helping clean the reef. Without healthy reefs, hundreds of marine organisms would lose valuable resources they need to survive, and biodiversity in our ocean would suffer. Stay tuned this week to learn more about reefs, and what we can do to protect these critical habitats! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a diver above a shipwreck
Nov. 27, 2016: National marine sanctuaries aren't just in the ocean! Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located in Lake Huron and protects one of the best-preserved collections of shipwrecks in the nation. What's more, divers and snorkelers are welcome to explore the wrecks -- as long as you're willing to brave the chilly waters! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of 2 elephant seals on the beach
Nov. 26, 2016: Winter is coming! And that means dozens of elephant seals will be making their way to the beaches at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and other West Coast sanctuaries to mate. Each year between December and February, elephant seals come to shore to breed. Males -- like the two seen here -- arrive first and fight for territory on the beach in quick, aggressive battles. Though males may experience minor injury as a result of these battles, severe harm or lasting damage rarely occur. Following establishment of territories, females arrive and the mating season ensues. Each pregnant female then gives birth to a single pup, who she'll nurse for about a month before returning to sea. Planning a visit to the area this winter? Be sure to give elephant seals plenty of space, for your own safety and for the safety of the animals. Do not approach seals on the beach for a photo, even if they appear to be resting. Instead, enjoy the scene from a healthy distance. By doing so, you can help protect these animals! (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)

photo of 2 kids on the beach
Nov. 25, 2016: Need some fresh air after yesterday's feast? Sanctuaries like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are perfect places to catch a wave, take a dip, go on a seaside walk, or explore a tidepool brimming with life! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a monk seal and turtle snuggling on the beach
Nov. 24, 2016: Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries! It's only with your support that we can successfully protect our nation's precious marine ecosystems, and we are ever-thankful for you. We're also thankful for the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which has granted protection to thousands more marine organisms and many critical habitats. This expansion marked a major conservation success for our ocean, and will help protect endangered species like this cuddly monk seal and green sea turtle for decades to come. To all of our friends, partners, and supporters, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and a wonderful holiday season! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)

photo of a colorful spotted cabezon
Nov. 23, 2016: What lives within the kelp forest at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Marine mammals, crustaceans and fish -- like this cabezon! Male cabezon guard their eggs ferociously, leaving the nest only when closely approached. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of a beach and big rocks
Nov. 22, 2016: The view from First Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is breathtaking. Seabirds call above, while sea stars, anemones and dozens of other creatures live and thrive in tidepools and the nearby nutrient-rich waters. But this sanctuary is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and needs our protection!

When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and some of this atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. This carbon dioxide changes the ocean's chemistry, making the water more acidic and making it harder for shelled organisms to construct their shells and survive to adulthood. This can negatively impact shellfish industries and organisms that depend on shellfish as food sources. A combination of factors makes the Washington coast especially susceptible to acidified water, including coastal upwelling, which brings offshore water that is rich in carbon dioxide up from the deep ocean and onto the continental shelf. We can all do our part to protect vulnerable ecosystems like those at Olympic Coast by working with our communities to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn -- for example, through supporting local food initiatives or renewable energy programs. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of several long-spined sea urchins
Nov. 21, 2016: Beautiful long-spined sea urchins gather in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Though these fascinating creatures were almost entirely wiped out by an epidemic in the 1980s, they've make an incredible comeback throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This is great news in the region, because these organisms help prevent algae overgrowth by grazing on algae across reefs! Keep your eye out for these spiny critters on your next visit to the sanctuary. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a sei whale feeding
Nov. 20, 2016: Sei what?! Sei whales! This sei whale was spotted skim feeding in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Sei whales are baleen whales, filter feeding on plankton, small fish and squid using large baleen plates. They prefer to feed at dawn, and are actually the fastest known species of cetaceans! Check out the wake generated by this hungry individual. (Photo: Laura Lilly)

photo of a dolphin blowing air out of its blow hole
Nov. 19, 2016: Take a deep breath! Marine mammals like dolphins breathe air just like humans. But unlike us, they breathe through a blowhole at the top of their heads, as can be seen by the air escaping this dolphin's blowhole in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite dolphin fact? (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #14097)

photo of colorful coral and fish
Nov. 18, 2016: Early morning sunlight shines down through the water at Fagatele Bay in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, casting light on some of the vibrant, tropical fish that inhabit the region. Take a moment to soak in the tropical beauty at these southern reefs with us and swim on into the weekend! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of 2 north atlantic right whales
Nov. 17, 2016: North Atlantic right whales, among the rarest of all large whales, are often spotted hanging out in and around Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Only about 500 of these whales are still alive, and sanctuaries like Gray's Reef can help protect the endangered right whale from threats like ship strikes and disturbance from whale watching vessels and other boat traffic. Marine protected areas like national marine sanctuaries can offer animals like the right whale safe spaces to mate and raise their young, encouraging healthy population growth over time. Learn more about these magnificent whales. (Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15488)

photo of a woman snorkeling and coral beneath her
Nov. 16, 2016: Happy anniversary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Twenty-six years ago today, the sanctuary at Florida Keys was designated to protect some 2,900 square nautical miles of extensive seagrass beds, mangrove forests and the world's third largest barrier reef. More than 6,000 species, from seabirds to dolphins, find refuge in the sanctuary. Plus, the sanctuary welcomes visitors to enjoy recreational activities like snorkeling and fishing, while helping to ensure that these activities only happen in ways and at places that are not harmful to the sanctuary's natural and cultural resources. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a sea butterfly
Nov. 15, 2016: This beautiful pteropod, or sea butterfly, was spotted during a dive in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! Pteropods are tiny creatures, only about an inch in size, but their utility as an indicator species for ocean acidification is huge. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Some of that rampant carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, where it changes the ocean's chemistry and makes the water more acidic. These changes in ocean chemistry are making it harder for pteropods to build their shells. By tracking pteropod populations and keeping an eye on the health of their shells, we can gain information about the rate of ocean acidification and better analyze how chemical changes in the ocean will impact other shelled organisms and whole ecosystems over time. Learn more about the work the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program is doing to understand our changing ocean.(Photo: Evan Barba)

photo of a colorful anemone
Nov. 14, 2016: Gorgeous sea anemones like this one photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Many of these colorful invertebrates actually enter into symbiotic relationships with photosynthesizing algae, much like their cousins, the corals! In return for the food algae provide anemones, anemones bend toward or away from the light to provide algae the best opportunity to carry out photosynthesis. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of a tiger shark about to eat a laysan albatross
Nov. 13, 2016: Look out! This tiger shark (niuhi in Hawaiian) is about to snag a Laysan albatross snack in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Because of their association with shark attacks -- and those impressive jaws, here inching up on a Laysan albatross -- tiger sharks are feared by many people. But sharks like the tiger shark are incredibly important animals in ocean environments. Sharks help remove dead or decaying debris from the ocean, and thereby help keep our ocean clean, while also helping to keep ecosystems in balance. Learn more about sharks and their important role in the ocean. (Photo: Ilana Nimz)

up close photo of a manitee
Nov. 12, 2016: It's manatee awareness month! During winter, manatees migrate to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in search of warm, shallow waters to escape winter's chill. Because manatees tend to hang near the shoreline, munching pounds of seagrass, boat strikes have long been a threat to manatee population. By keeping our eyes out, motors up, and boat speeds low, we can all do our part to help protect these lovable creatures. Learn more about Florida Keys manatees. (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS)

photo of a an octopus and other marine life on a shipwreck under water
Nov. 11, 2016: Today, Veterans Day, we stop to honor the sacrifice members of our Armed Forces have made to protect and defend our nation. Just this year, the discovery of the wreck of the USS Conestoga in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary at last brought peace to several families of Navy crew members once lost at sea. We wish that same peace to all veterans and their families today, and work to protect the memory of our fallen soldiers at rest in national marine sanctuaries. Now clad in new purple and white marine life, the wreck of Conestoga serves as a permanent, living reminder of the sacrifice the sailors aboard the Conestoga made on behalf of their country, and as an artificial reef that today provides refuge to marine life. Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a pacific white dolphin flipping out of the water
Nov. 10, 2016: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is home to some 13 species of cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises)! Pacific white-sided dolphins like this one are among the most frequently seen at the sanctuary, and are incredibly social animals. While these dolphins may sidle right up alongside a boat to investigate, never try to touch, chase, or feed them. Pacific white-sided dolphins are among the many species protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and need our help to stay safe and healthy in their natural environment. (Photo: Sage Tezak/NOAA)

photo of a lighthouse
Nov. 9, 2016: Each November, harsh weather patterns strike the Great Lakes, making boating and shipping in the area extraordinarily treacherous. Because of frequent storms and sudden gales, November has been termed the "Deadliest Month" on the Great Lakes. This deadly November weather has claimed many ships over the centuries -- including quite a few in what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Throughout the month of November, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary pays homage on social media to the many ships and lives that have been lost on icy Lake Huron. This month, follow Thunder Bay on Facebook or Twitter (@ThunderBayNMS) as the sanctuary tells the stories of the historic wrecks of Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a sand tiger shark swimming
Nov. 8, 2016: Sand tiger sharks can't help but drop their jaws at the incredible history in and around Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! Though the sanctuary was established to protect the wreck of the USS Monitor, the sanctuary is considering an expansion that could protect many other ships within the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Here, a sand tiger shark swims around the wreck of Caribsea, a 1919 freighter sunk by a German U-boat during World War II. Laden with heavy cargo, Caribsea sank in less than two minutes after being struck by a torpedo in the middle of the night. The abrupt strike left no time for lifeboats to be launched. Survivors of the attack were forced to flee their bunks and jump into the sea, where they would drift, clinging to the wreckage, for some 10 hours before rescue. A few days after Caribsea sank, a man living in North Carolina's Outer Banks discovered a framed certificate drifting up on the surf during a walk on the beach. The certificate, he would find, belonged to his cousin, a Caribsea crewmember, and would confirm the tragic wreck of the Caribsea for the community. Learn more of the history behind the shipwrecks that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a bright yellow and blue queen triggerfish
Nov. 7, 2016: Queen triggerfish are some of the most distinguishable fish on the reef in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. These beautifully-colored fish can actually change their shade from light to dark depending on their environment! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a fish swimming with purple sea urchins and hydrocorals in the background
Nov. 6, 2016: Purple hydrocorals blanket the rocky depths of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, while purple urchins creep in to feed. Positioned in a unique location where cool, nutrient-rich currents mix with warmer, more southern waters, California's Channel Islands sit at a biological transition zone chock full of life. What other colorful critters can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Cindy Shaw)

photo of a colorful sea slug
Nov. 5, 2016: Cruise on through the weekend like this sea slug (Thuridilla neona) moving along the coral reef of Neva Shoals at Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Closely related to nudibranchs, Thuridilla neona is part of a group of sea slugs that primarily eat algae. (Photo: Scott Godwin/NOAA)

split photo of a humback whale breaching and a humpback whale and calf under water.
Nov. 4, 2016: Happy birthday to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Though thousands of miles apart, both of these sanctuaries have offered refuge to humpback whales since 1992. Each summer, humpback whales migrate from the Caribbean to Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they feast on food like krill and sand lance that flourish in the sanctuary's waters. And in the Pacific, humpback whales journey to the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands each winter to mate, calve, and raise their young. (Top photo: Ari Friedlaender, under NOAA Permit 14245. Bottom photo: NOAA, under NOAA Permit #744-1714)

photo of a golden brown jelly fish swimming upside down
Nov. 3, 2016: Happy Jellyfish Day! The Pacific sea nettle, like this one in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, hunts tiny animals like zooplankton and larval fishes with its stinging tentacles and mouth-arms. Plastic bags can look deceptively like sea nettles and other jellies while floating in the water, and can spell trouble for a sea turtle or other animal that's just scouting for a jellyfish snack. Help protect our ocean ecosystems by keeping plastic out of the water! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a brown speckeled bird in flight
Nov. 2, 2016: The long-tailed jaeger spends much of the year far out at sea feeding -- outside of breeding season it may rarely come in sight of land! Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's food-rich waters make it a major feeding destination for nearly 60 bird species, including the long-tailed jaeger. Oceanographic upwelling in this sanctuary provides nutrients that fuel krill and small fishes, which in turn create rich feeding grounds for birds in the waters of Cordell Bank. Learn more about seabirds in the sanctuary here. (Photo: Laura Morse/NOAA)

photo of a stingray buried in the sand under water
Nov. 1, 2016: What's that buried in the sand in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary? A southern stingray! During the day, these rays bury themselves in the sand to hide themselves. At night, they graze the seafloor, using electroreceptors, touch and smell to find their food. Southern stingrays are not aggressive toward humans, but watch out -- these stingrays have a barb at the base of their tail that will cause a painful laceration if stepped on. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a whiteish octopus on the ocean floor
Oct. 31, 2016: Happy Halloween from your National Marine Sanctuary System! This ghostly octopod was nicknamed Casper when it was spotted by researchers in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team glimpsed this potential new species of octopod at a depth of more than 2.5 miles on the northeast side of Necker Island. Most described species of octopods have two rows of suckers down each arm, but this one has only a single row on each. Even more intriguing is that most deep-sea octopods possess fins that help them navigate in the depths, but this one does not. Spooky! (Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)

photo of a shipwreck with schools of fish around it
Oct. 30, 2016: This ghostly shipwreck is U-352, a German U-boat that was sunk on May 9, 1942 by the USS Icarus, a 165-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter. Today, this wreck site is likely the U-boat most frequently dived by recreational divers within the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and is one wreck that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the U-boat's history and location. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

photo of 2 surfers looking onto the water
Oct. 29, 2016: What's a weekend without a little fun outdoors? Here, two surfers take in an incredible sunset among the iconic sea stacks and crashing waves of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. What adventure will you find in your national marine sanctuaries? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a whale and a calf swimming
Oct. 28, 2016: Each summer and fall, whales visit Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to feed on krill. Busy shipping lanes that coincide with whale feeding areas present a ship strike threat to whales, so sanctuary staff conduct monthly aerial surveys to better understand whale distribution and inform management decisions. During an October aerial survey of marine mammals, sanctuary staff recorded 11 endangered blue whales and two humpback whales in the Santa Barbara Channel shipping lanes. While most of the whales were away from high-traffic areas, this is the highest number of individuals so far recorded during 2016 surveys. By using the Whale Alert app, mariners and members of the public can help sanctuary staff track where the whales are so they can be better protected! (Photo: Jess Morten/NOAA)

photo of a toad fish waiting for prey
Oct. 27, 2016: Boo! An oyster toadfish lies in wait, camouflaged in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Oyster toadfish are peculiar looking fish, and exhibit some interesting behaviors as well. During the spawning season (April to October), male oyster toadfish will emit a call to attract females that sounds somewhat like a foghorn. This call can be heard over long distances, beckoning female toadfish to come say hello. (Photo: Emily Aiken)
photo of a humback whale and calf swimming
Oct. 26, 2016: A mother and calf humpback whale glide through the surface waters in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. After a nearly 12-month gestation period, a female humpback whale gives birth to a single calf that she closely nurtures and feeds for six to 10 more months. While humans consume milk that is about two percent fat, the milk humpback whale moms provide to their calves is 45 to 60 percent fat! This rich milk helps calves grow and develop as their mothers lead them through the first months of life. (Image: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a mola mola
Oct. 25, 2016: It's a mola mola! Usually seen floating solo, mola mola (also known as ocean sunfish) are the largest living bony fish in the sea. This one was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, but mola molas can be found all over the world. These gigantic fish feed primarily on jellyfish. A plastic bag can look remarkably like a jelly when it's floating on the ocean surface and can choke or otherwise harm a mola that mistakes it for a snack. So help protect mola molas by reducing your use of plastic bags and keeping trash off the streets and out of the ocean! (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)
photo of a manta ray
Oct. 24, 2016: 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. Two years ago today, we launched Earth Is Blue to bring the treasures of the ocean and Great Lakes directly to you through images and videos. Earth Is Blue is a tangible reminder that no matter where you are, the ocean and Great Lakes are in your hand, and we hope these posts inspire you to help care for our ocean and to spread the word that Earth isn't green -- it's blue. You can see all the photos we've shared so far at here. We can't wait to see what this new year of Earth Is Blue brings! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA, taken in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a rainbow over the ocean
Oct. 23, 2016: It's our birthday! 🎂 🎉 On October 23rd, 1972, Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, officially establishing what is today the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. For 44 years, we've served as the trustee for America's underwater parks and protected waters. We work with a variety of partners and the public to care for our world's ocean and Great Lakes through research, education initiatives, planning, and community outreach. Thank you for joining us to protect our ocean treasures! What's your favorite ocean or Great Lakes memory? (Photo: Paulo Maurin/NOAA, taken in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument)
photo of a turtle
Oct. 22, 2016: Fin-five from this loggerhead sea turtle in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Loggerheads get their name from their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey. From hatching to adulthood, a loggerhead increases its weight more than 6,000 times! Marine debris, fishing gear, and development near their nesting areas remain major issues for loggerheads, but by working together we can help reduce these threats. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of an otter and a cub
Oct. 21, 2016: Today marks the 44th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which ensures that marine mammals like whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters and dolphins can carry out their normal functioning without disruption -- and without the threat of hunting, poaching, or exploitation. Because marine mammals like sea otters play critical roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, this protection benefits humans too! In fact, sea otters like these two in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary serve as keystone species in the kelp forests along the California coast, helping to preserve kelp populations that in turn provide important benefits to humans. Without the protection provided under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, otter populations would likely suffer, and we would lose all of the incredible ecosystem services they provide. Help us celebrate this anniversary by always viewing wildlife responsibly. (Photo: © Monterey Bay Aquarium)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
Oct. 20, 2016: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects a variety of historic shipwrecks in the waters of Lake Huron, giving divers in the area an opportunity to dive back through several hundreds of years in the shipping industry. Here the wreck of W.P. Thew, a steamer built to carry wood products like logs, timber, railroad ties and shingles, rests 84 feet below the sanctuary's surface. Amidst a dense fog, Thew was lost during a hit-and-run style accident in the summer of 1909. Not a diver? You can still enjoy the history of Thunder Bay's shipwrecks by visiting the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a whale breaching
Oct. 19, 2016: Time for that mid-week stretch with this breaching humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Scientists still aren't quite sure why humpback whales and other species breach, but one hypothesis is that breaching helps whales remove parasites from their skin -- similar to the way some land animals scratch their backs against trees. It's also possible that noise levels might impact breaching behavior. When noise levels from rough seas or boats impact a whale's ability to communicate, they may use the sound of their bodies crashing against the water's surface as an alternate method of communication -- and use visual cues from above the water's surface to help them direct communication. (Photo: Laura Lilly)
photo of fish and vibrant coral and sponges
Oct. 18, 2016: Would you believe this vibrant reefscape can be found just off the coast of Georgia? The scattered rocky outcroppings and ledges of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provide a home for a variety of invertebrates, including sponges, barnacles, fan corals and sea stars. What can you spot here? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a ship wreck
Oct. 17, 2016: In 1942, the steam merchant ship City of Atlanta was sunk by a German U-boat while carrying 3,000 tons of cargo -- mostly food -- and a few passengers. The sinking of City of Atlanta resulted in the largest loss of life among ships torpedoed off the coast of North Carolina during World War II: of 46 people on board, only three survived, rescued six hours later by Seatrain Texas. Today, City of Atlanta rests 90 feet down, blanketed with colorful marine life. This is one ship that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary; learn more about its history and current location here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a green heron
Oct. 16, 2016: The green heron is one of many gorgeous bird species that can be found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These clever birds can use "bait" like a twig or an insect to lure in fish prey! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a very colorful coral
Oct. 15, 2016: Seaview Saturday: The rocky habitat of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is home to a large variety of marine invertebrates and fish -- including this group of widow rockfish (Sebastes entomelas). Productive waters make it possible for these organisms to grow in abundance and exhibit a vibrant underwater landscape! (Photo: Robert Lee/BAUE)
photo of a diver
Oct. 14, 2016: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects an amazing array of marine life, making it a great diving spot for those who have the pleasure to visit! Here, a diver inspects a variety of healthy corals in the sanctuary -- a welcome sight in a time when many corals around the world are undergoing bleaching as a result of warmer ocean temperatures. Learn more about what we can do to keep corals like these healthy. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of a scientist gathering water
Oct. 13, 2016: The shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offer a glimpse into our nation's maritime history, but did you know that Lake Huron also gives scientists the opportunity to understand life as it was billions of years ago? Submerged sinkholes in Lake Huron vent cool, oxygen-free groundwater into the lake bottom. Since this water is denser than normal lake water, it forms a distinct layer on the lake floor that is the perfect habitat for low-oxygen-tolerant bacteria -- microorganisms that are similar to those that lived in Earth's shallow seas 2.5 billion years ago. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary research team regularly conducts scientific dives for researchers from Grand Valley State University’s Microbial Biology Lab, the University of Michigan’s Geomicrobiology Lab, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory as they characterize the special ecosystem present at the Middle Island sinkhole. Here, a NOAA diver takes a bacterial mat sample from the Middle Island sinkhole. Learn more about the sanctuary's research here. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
photo of a fluffy white chick stretching its wings
Oct. 12, 2016: Feel the wind beneath your wings like this fluffy white tern chick in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! An abundance of prey items including small fish in the monument allow tern chicks like this one to receive the nutrition they need while fledging. Once its wings are fully developed this tern will take to the skies, joining some 14 million seabirds that breed and nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. (Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 11, 2016: It may look like a flower, but don't be fooled! Sea anemones like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are actually animals, and are closely related to corals and jellies. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 10, 2016: Earlier this summer, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore deep ocean ecosystems in and around many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. While surveying Trask Knoll near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, a formation about which little is known, this stubby squid came out to say hello! Though they look like a cross between an octopus and a squid (or perhaps a squishy plush toy) stubby squid are actually closely related to cuttlefish. They spend their lives on the seafloor, coating themselves in a mucus jacket and burrowing into the sediment. Leaving just their eyes peeking above surface, they remain buried until prey items like shrimp or small fish pass by. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 9, 2016: How's that for a stretch? This summer, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the waters in and around many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. While surveying Arguello Canyon near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, researchers spotted this octopus! Learn more about the expedition here. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
Oct. 8, 2016: Octopuses are about 90% muscle, and about 100% fascinating. Found in many of our national marine sanctuaries, octopuses have a number of unique characteristics that make them well suited to life in the sea. In addition to their impeccable color-changing camouflage -- pictured here in this photo of an octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary -- octopuses have a protein called hemocyanin in their blood. Hemocyanin acts much like our own hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout human bloodstreams. But unlike human hemoglobin, which contains iron, hemocyanin is rich in copper and is more efficient than hemoglobin at very cold temperatures or in low-oxygen environments. Hemocyanin is also the compound that makes octopus blood blue. Celebrate Cephalopod Awareness Days with us today and share YOUR favorite octopus facts! (Image: Steve Miller)
photo of a white and orange striped fish
Oct. 7, 2016: Shine bright like a...rockfish? This fish Friday, we bring you the flag rockfish of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This solitary species is often found tucked into crevices or hiding under boulders. What's your favorite kind of fish to spot when you're exploring your national marine sanctuaries? (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA)
photo of a humpback whale feeding with a bunch of seagulls around its mouth
Oct. 6, 2016: Open wide! It may look like this humpback whale is getting ready to snap some birds up, but it's actually going for krill and small fish. Each summer and fall, humpback whales travel to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Cod where they find an abundance of food. And where humpback whales are, you'll often also find seabirds waiting to gobble up the leftovers! (Photo: Richard Dolan)
photo of a lionfish swimming
Oct. 5, 2016: It's National Seafood Month, and one of the best seafood choices you can make is to eat invasive species! In recent years, the Indo-Pacific lionfish has been found throughout the waters of the southeastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, where it poses a serious threat to coral reef ecosystems and fish communities. Indo-Pacific lionfish have voracious appetites -- 1,000 lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish in one year -- and no known predators in the reefs they've invaded. Plus, they have a long lifespan and a rapid reproduction rate. Learn how researchers are working to understand and combat this threat to reef ecosystem health -- and how you can help!. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a dark colored crinoid under water
Oct. 4, 2016: What's one marine organism that's been around since before the time of the dinosaurs? The crinoid! Crinoid fossils have been found dating back to the Ordovician period, roughly 490 million years ago. When attached to the sea floor, like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, these "living fossils" are also known as sea lilies. A crinoid uses its arms to trap small particles of food floating by, then sends that food to its mouth, located in the crinoid's center! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
old photo of the uss monitor and 2 people
Oct. 3, 2016: The USS Monitor, now at rest in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, played a major role in shifting naval warfare during the Civil War. Monitor was the Union's first ironclad warship, and its construction marked the transition from wooden to iron ships in naval history. Here, officers onboard Monitor inspect damage to the iron turret that occurred during the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9th, 1862, a crucial battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. Learn more about this historic ship here. (Photo: Library of Congress)
photo of a diver under water
Oct. 2, 2016: Why are the shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary so intact? Because of the beautiful blue-green fresh water you see here! Below the cold, clear waves of Lake Huron, divers can experience some of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the United States with amazing visibility. Come take a dive back through time with us and visit Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a humback whale up close and feeding
Oct. 1, 2016: Smiiiile! Autumn is here, and what better way to celebrate than with a whale watching trip to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? Every summer and fall, humpback whales travel to Stellwagen Bank to feed on krill and small fish. Check out this whale's mug as it sifts water through thick baleen plates to filter out food! Learn more about how you can experience these amazing animals. (Image: NOAA)
photo of a diver and green algae growing on coral under water
Sept. 30, 2016: What happens to a coral reef after a mass bleaching event? Often, algae overgrows the dead corals, dramatically impacting the reef ecosystem, like on this bleached reef near Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. While this can benefit some herbivorous fish in the short term, over the long term the reef ecosystem loses its integrity. By minimizing stressors like pollution and runoff, overfishing, and the impacts of tourism and recreation, we can increase the odds that corals will recover after a bleaching event. What will you do to help protect these important ecosystems? (Photo: John Burns/Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology - HIMB/NOAA)
photo of a bird landing on water
Sept. 29, 2016: We're swimming through the week like this black-footed albatross in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary​! Found mostly in the North Pacific, the black-footed albatross is the only albatross commonly found off the North American coastline. Though they breed thousands of miles away in Hawai'i, the rich waters of Cordell Bank are a popular feeding site for these migratory birds. Subject to threats brought about by plastics pollution, black-footed albatross need our help to reduce marine debris. What will you do to help protect these seabirds? (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA)
photo of coral under water
Sept. 28, 2016: This photo may be beautiful, but it shows significant bleaching in the coral reef surrounding Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Corals require specific temperature ranges, and when water temperatures become too high, stressed corals often expel the colorful algae they depend on to survive -- this is known as coral bleaching. Recently, our actions have led to warmer water temperatures across the globe. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas to power our homes and fuel our cars, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heat-trapping blanket, warming our planet, including the ocean. In recent years, we've seen coral bleaching events all around the world as a result of this warmer ocean. It's up to all of us to work together to reduce our fossil fuel usage so that we can protect corals and other ocean inhabitants. Together, we can support alternative energy initiatives like solar solutions that will help protect our coral reefs. What will you and your community to do help reduce your fossil fuel usage? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of 2 surfers holding surfboards watching the sunset
Sept. 27, 2016: Happy World Tourism Day! We all like to get away from the hustle and bustle sometimes, and visiting your national marine sanctuaries is the perfect opportunity to recharge while getting acquainted with the natural world. Whether you prefer to surf in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary or go whale watching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, these special places have something for everyone! Which national marine sanctuary will you visit next? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of an access team member fiving the thumbs up
Sept. 26, 2016: All's well on the ACCESS Cruise! Last week, the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies Survey, or ACCESS Partnership, cruised through Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary surveying zooplankton, fish, seabirds and whales to inform resource management along the California Current. Here, the team's most recent member, intern Kaytlin Ingman, assists the marine science team on the back deck. Learn more about ACCESS research here. (Photo: D. Devlin/NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS)
photo of a manta ray and bubbles under water
Sept. 25, 2016: Today, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 16th anniversary as a national marine sanctuary site. Located in northwest Lake Huron, Thunder Bay is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system, earning it the nickname "Shipwreck Alley." Fire, ice, collisions and storms have claimed more than 200 vessels in and around Thunder Bay. Today, the sanctuary protects one of our nation's best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. Plus, many of these wrecks are amazing dive sites! Here, a diver inspects the wreck of D.M. Wilson, which sank in 1894. Happy anniversary, Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a manta ray and bubbles under water
Sept. 24, 2016: It's a bird, it's a plane -- it's a manta ray! Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary visitor Chas Downey was diving on the sanctuary's West Flower Garden Bank when this manta ray came swimming by. What an amazing sight! Manta rays are popular visitors to the sanctuary, and there are still many unanswered questions about these enormous rays. Sanctuary researchers are working to find out more. (Photo: Chas Downey)
photo of cormarants resting on mangrove trees
Sept. 23, 2016: These cormorants are hanging out on some mangroves during National Estuaries Week! Mangrove trees in estuarine environments like those of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are specially adapted to survive in saltier water. Their tangled root systems help break waves in tidal ecosystems, reducing erosion and allowing sediment to settle out of the water. Nutrient exchange and calm waters near mangroves also provide excellent nurseries for a variety of marine organisms! Learn more. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a pink jelly-like creature called a siphonophore
Sept. 22, 2016: Home to wild and wonderful creatures like this pink siphonophore, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 36th anniversary as a sanctuary site today. Happy anniversary! Learn about this national marine sanctuary and its amazingly productive ecosystem here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a pair of otters floating in the water
Sept. 21, 2016: Raise your hands -- er, paws -- if you love sea otters! Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Douglas Croft spotted this pair keeping their paws warm in the Elkhorn Slough Nation Estuarine Research Reserve. Once hunted to near-extinction, sea otters have made a comeback on the West Coast in recent years, but they still need our help. When you're visiting the coast, give them plenty of space (a zoom lens like Douglas's can be key!). If you get too close, you might interrupt their feeding, grooming, and resting, which can negatively impact their health and make it harder for these adorable creatures to survive. With good ocean etiquette, you can help protect sea otters and other species. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
photo of a group of otters floating in the water
Sept. 20, 2016: It's Sea Otter Awareness Week! Found along the Pacific coast, sea otters like the group rafting here reside in several of our national marine sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Both in and outside sanctuary borders, sea otters function as keystone species in kelp forest ecosystems, playing a critical role in maintaining the health of this ecosystem. They do this by eating urchins and other animals that could otherwise threaten kelp abundance. Cute AND critical! (Photo: USFWS)
photo of gualala estuary
Sept. 19, 2016: Tide's turning, it's National Estuaries Week! Estuaries are locations where rivers meet the sea. Serving as natural runoff filters and nurseries for hundreds of young fish and other species, estuaries are important, productive habitats for humans and wildlife alike. On the coast of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the Gualala River estuary pictured here provides an important habitat for young salmonid fish. Learn more about estuaries and Estuary Week Events near you. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a beach with clifs and rocks
Sept. 18, 2016: Designated 24 years ago today, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects vast kelp forests, near-shore deep-ocean environments, and one of North America's largest underwater canyons. Happy anniversary Monterey Bay! Thanks for all you do to protect our ocean. (Image: Katie Holmes/NOAA)
photo of 4 people standing on a pile of nets and ropes that are marine debris
Sept. 17, 2016: Today marks the 31st International Coastal Cleanup! Over the past three decades, more than 10 million people have participated in the International Coastal Cleanup, an cleanup event organized to help address one of the biggest challenges our ocean faces -- marine debris! Here, a team in the recently expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument sits atop a massive pile of fishing nets, rope and other debris cleaned from beaches in the monument. Whether you're participating in an organized cleanup event today or not, head out to your favorite beach today and see what you can do fight marine debris!

Not near a beach? You can still help keep our ocean clean by using reusable shopping bags and drink containers, opting not to use plastic straws, and spreading the word about the importance of maintaining clean and healthy oceans.

Sign up for a cleanup near you here. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of the back of a seagull with a smokey sunset in the background
Sept. 16, 2016: In late August and early September, the Chimney Fire swept through central California, bringing smoke and ash into the sky above Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Though the Chimney Fire is now under control, fires like this can have long-term impacts on both marine and terrestrial wildlife. During the fire, sanctuary visitor Brad Hunt photographed this western gull looking out over a fiery sunset in San Simeon Bay, capturing the heat of the Chimney Fire and sun in one blazing shot. (Photo: Brad Hunt)
drawing of marine life caught in debris
Sept. 15, 2016: Celebrate National Arts in Education Week with one of the winners of the annual NOAA Marine Debris art contest -- and then help solve the problem of marine debris this weekend by taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup! Marine debris one of the most widespread pollution threats facing the world's oceans and waterways -- and you can make a difference. Find a cleanup near you here. (Image: Kathy R., courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris)
photo of two right whales
Sept. 14, 2016: Many marine animals, like these North Atlantic right whales swimming near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, use sound to communicate with one another. Many of these sounds are similar in tone or frequency to noise produced by underwater human activities -- so we're finding that a noisier ocean may mean that animals have more trouble communicating than they used to. Noise can also affect animals' ability to orient and navigate, find food, avoid predators, and select mates. With this in mind, NOAA is launching its Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap to guide a more effective and comprehensive management of ocean noise impacts on marine life over the next 10 years. Learn more about the roadmap at cetsound.noaa.gov. (Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, under NOAA permit #15488)
photo of a close up of giant kelp
Sept. 13, 2016: This giant kelp was photographed in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, but giant kelp is found all the way from southeast Alaska to Baja California, and also in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Tasmania and New Zealand! This macroalga grows to about 30 meters in height, though can grow to more than 50 meters in ideal conditions. Because it frequently grows in dense kelp forests, giant kelp provides essential shelter for many species of adult fish and serves as a nursery for juveniles. In California, up to 100 species of fish depend on these forests! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a drawing of fish and jellies under water
Sept. 12, 2016: It's National Arts in Education Week! Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Massachusetts Marine Educators have jointly sponsored an annual student marine art contest. This wolffish by Saiya Rivera took 4th place in the 2014 contest! Take a look at all the winners from past years here. (Image: Saiya Rivera)
photo of colorful coral, sponges and strawberry anemone
Sept. 11, 2016: Each year, seasonal upwelling brings nutrient-rich water to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. Thanks to these nutrients, the rocky reef of Cordell Bank teems with life. Can you spot the nudibranch egg case here? (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
Sept. 10, 2016: It's shipwreck Saturday! Dive into Lake Huron at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary for a glimpse of the wooden steam barge Montana. En route from Detroit to Georgian Bay to load lumber in 1914, it caught fire, burned to the water’s edge, and sank off Thunder Bay’s North Point. Today, Montana's bow is broken open, but many interesting hull features can still be seen at the site. Its engine, boiler, shaft and propeller are all in place, while the windlass, capstan and rudder also lie among the wreckage. Learn more about diving in Thunder Bay here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a shearwater skimming the water
Sept. 9, 2016: Great shearwaters are one of more than 30 species of seabird that can be found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Cod. The birds winter and nest in the southern hemisphere, usually appearing in the Gulf of Maine in April to feed. However, little is known about how they spend their time in these northern waters, so researchers in the sanctuary are using satellite technology to learn more about shearwaters' movements, life cycle, and feeding and foraging habits. Learn more here. (Photo: Chris Ferrante)
photo of a purple sea hare
Sept. 8, 2016: Say hello to the California sea hare! This underwater herbivore was photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Sea hares are no bunnies, though -- they're mollusks! When threatened by predators, these invertebrates are known to release a dark purple fluid in defense. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of a whale underwater
Sept. 7, 2016: Have you heard the news? Humpback whales that breed in the waters of Hawai'i are no longer considered endangered because this population has rebounded to more than 11,000 individuals. Although they are no longer considered endangered, these whales are still protected, including by Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. You can help protect humpback whales in Hawai'i by following safe boating procedures, staying at least 100 yards away from whales, and reporting injured or entangled whales to NOAA's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. Learn more here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a butterflyfish
Sept. 6, 2016: Check out this new species of butterflyfish! Found in the deep reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, this is Prognathodes basabei. The species was first observed in video taken from manned submersibles more than 20 years ago at depths as great as 600 feet. However, because of the extreme depths, it wasn't until recently that technical divers using advanced electronic closed-circuit rebreathers were able to collect and preserve specimens in a way that would allow proper scientific documentation as an undescribed species. Learn more about the butterflyfish here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of green anemones in a tidepool
Sept. 5, 2016: The tidepools of West Coast sanctuaries like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary are isolated pockets of seawater that collect in low spots along the shore during low tide. They form on rocky coasts where depressions have been scoured in the shoreline or where boulders and debris prevent water from draining back to the sea. The planets and animals that live within them are alternately covered and abandoned by the shifting tides, forcing them to cope with extreme physical, chemical and biological changes. What's your favorite creature to spot while tidepooling? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a whale's fin out of water
Sept. 4, 2016: Fins up if you love whales! Humpback whales like this one are protected by many of your national marine sanctuaries, including Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Hawai'i and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts. This weekend, we're at the IUCN World Conservation Congress collaborating with other agencies and organizations about how we can best protect species like these whales, along with the habitats they call home. Follow the action here as we livestream from the World Conservation Congress floor, and on Twitter (twitter.com/sanctuaries) as we livetweet the action! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a big white sponge
Sept. 3, 2016: This ruby brittle star isn't in an underwater snowstorm -- the corals around it are spawning! Every August, seven to 10 days after the full moon, the reef-building corals of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on a fantastic spawning display, one of the most abundant displays in the entire Caribbean. Most scientists agree that these mass spawning events are designed to allow genetic mixing and dispersal of offspring over large distances. Plus, the sheer volume of the events allow for the fertilization and survival of a significant number of larvae despite the best efforts of predators. Learn more here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a big white sponge
Sept. 2, 2016: How big is the largest sponge on record? About the size of a minivan! While diving in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2015, researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered this enormous sponge 7,000 feet beneath the ocean surface. Research ships like the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer allow us to explore deep, never-before-seen environments and better understand our ocean ecosystems. (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
photo of a diver and a shark
Sept. 1, 2016: Today marks the opening of IUCN's World Conservation Congress, the largest conservation conference in the world. Follow us on Twitter this week at @sanctuaries to keep tabs on the conference and learn more about what NOAA is doing to help understand and protect vital ocean inhabitants like this Galapagos shark in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Learn more about NOAA's participation in the conference here. (Photo: Richard Pyle/Bishop Museum and NOAA)
photo of a beach scene with palm strees and green mountains
Aug. 31, 2016: What's beneath the waves of the beautiful National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa? The six areas of the sanctuary protect extensive coral reefs -- including some of the oldest and largest Porites coral heads in the world -- deep water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities and rare marine archaeological resources. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of the pink coral, sponges and fish
Aug. 30, 2016: Located off the coast of Georgia, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary protects what's known as a "live-bottom reef." The sanctuary's scattered rocky outcroppings and ledges provide homes for a variety of invertebrates. These sea stars, fan corals, sponges, barnacles, crabs, lobsters, snails, shrimp and other organisms form a dense carpet of living creatures -- the sanctuary's "live bottom." (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo of the ocean and cliffs
Aug. 29, 2016: Enjoy a misty Monday morning at Cape Flattery in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Located within the Makah Tribal Reservation, Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. From here, you can look out onto the northern part of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- and if you're lucky, you might just spot a whale swimming past! (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA)
photo of dolphins
Aug. 28, 2016: Are you enjoying the weekend as much as these common dolphins in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: Ken Tatro)
photo of a diver and a nudibranch
Aug. 27, 2016: NOAA diver Dr. Steve Lonhart sizes up a hooded nudibranch in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Also known as the lion's mane nudibranch, the hooded nudibranch sweeps its raised hood through the water to catch food, then contracts it to force the food into its mouth. On this dive in 2011, researchers spotted a group of hooded nudibranchs with hoods exceeding 15 centimeters in diameter! (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of a underwater crab
Aug. 26, 2016: Big news! Today, President Obama announced that Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, will expand from 139,818 square miles to 582,578 square miles. That’s bigger than the total land area of the state of Alaska -- and makes Papahānaumokuākea larger than any other land or ocean conservation area on Earth. Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck
Aug. 25, 2016: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! Located in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects one of the best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks in the United States. The wooden bulk freighter D.M. Wilson is one such wreck. D.M. Wilson was headed for Milwaukee with a load of coal when it sprang a leak and began sinking. The steamers Hudson and Samuel Mitchell took it in tow but it foundered in 40 feet of water two miles north of Thunder Bay Island; the crew was rescued by a fourth ship. The Wilson was broken up by a gale 10 days later and much of the machinery was later salvaged. Still, most of the Wilson's hull remains intact -- and dive-able -- today. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a whale breaching
Aug. 24, 2016: Look out below! A humpback whale breaches in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Though humpback whales are relatively slow swimmers, able to swim at about 15 miles per hour but averaging only two to nine miles per hour, they're amazing acrobats. From summer through fall, humpback whales are quite active in Stellwagen Bank waters, giving visitors a great chance to glimpse this incredible behavior! (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA)
photo of diver and bright coral
Aug. 23, 2016: Travel 23 miles west from the Point Reyes Lighthouse in California and dip down 115 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, and you're in for a real treat. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary protects the hidden treasure of Cordell Bank, a rocky reef that hosts a bright and lively community of marine life. While the depth, currents, and changeable conditions around Cordell Bank mean that we don't recommend diving in the sanctuary, you can learn about the marvels it protects at cordellbank.noaa.gov. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) Point Reyes National Seashore
photo of scientists taking selfies
Aug. 22, 2016: What about a science selfie? Here, NOAA divers and scientists Steve Lonhart (right) and Bill Goodwin (left) snap a quick selfie during a safety stop in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo of bright corals
Aug. 21, 2016: Tomorrow around 6pm PST/9pm EST, we'll be teaming up with Nautilus Live to explore the wreck of the USS Independence in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- and you can watch the exploration in real time! This World War II era naval ship and former aircraft carrier was once used in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Independence was scuttled offshore of San Francisco in 1951, rediscovered as the deepest shipwreck in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and acoustically mapped by NOAA in 2015 using autonomous underwater vehicles. Resting in 2,600 feet of water off California's Farallon Islands, the carrier is amazingly intact, with its hull and flight deck clearly visible, and what appears to be a plane in the carrier's hangar bay. We can't wait to see what the first visual survey of this wreck reveals! You can watch the expedition live at nautiluslive.org and learn more about the USS Independence here. (Photo: U.S. Navy, National Archives, 80-74436)
photo of bright corals
Aug. 20, 2016: Even the deep sea can have bright colors! This spring, scientists from NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research explored the deep waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. While exploring the waters of Castellano Seamount, the Deep Discoverer ROV came across this group of brisingid sea stars -- one of the largest aggregations on these sea stars that anyone on the ship had ever seen! (Photo: Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana)
photo of a goliath grouper
Aug. 19, 2016: Our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest has officially come to a close, but thank you to all who submitted photos to this year's contest! We love seeing all the ways in which YOU enjoy your sanctuaries -- and the species you encounter. This goliath grouper was photographed by David Gilchrist, visitor to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Goliath groupers can reach up to 800 pounds! Talk about a big fish. (Photo: David Gilchrist)
photo of an octopus hiding in pink coral
Aug. 18, 2016: Can you spot the sneaky octopus tucking itself among the hydrocoral at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary? The deep-sea environment of Cordell Bank supports a highly productive marine ecosystem home to invertebrates, fishes, and marine mammals alike. Learn more here. (Photo: Matt Vieta/BAUE)
photo of a brown bird with bright green eyes
Aug. 17, 2016: Drumroll please! 1st place winner in the "Sanctuary Life" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest goes to Christina Parsons, with this incredible photo of a Brandt's cormorant in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Those eyes are captivating! Brandt's cormorants breed all along the Pacific coast, making them inhabitants of several of our marine sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay and Channel Islands national marine sanctuaries. (Photo: Christina Parsons)
photo of a bright green anemone
Aug. 16, 2016: The 2nd place winner in the "Sanctuary Life" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest is Evan Barba! Evan, visitor to Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, photographed this sunburst anemone (Anthopleura sola) on a dive near Santa Cruz Island when he made a safety stop. Though anemones like this individual tend to collect sediment and debris over time, this one was found on a near-vertical rock face, leaving its beautiful coloration and patterning within easy view! (Photo: Evan Barba)
photo of a photo of white bird flying
Aug. 15, 2016: This week, we're celebrating the winning photos of the "Sanctuary Life" category in the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! Our third place entry was taken by Andrew Sullivan-Haskins in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This gorgeous shot depicts a white tern, or Manu-o-Kū in Hawaiian, soaring over Kure Atoll. Papahānaumokuākea attracts some 14 million seabirds seasonally, including white terns, making it the largest tropical seabird rookery in the world! (Photo: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins)
photo of a photo of colorful coral
Aug. 14, 2016: Coral reefs like the one shown here in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are incredibly beautiful, and they're also critical to ocean health. Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment! They also help protect people and the places we live by serving as a buffer to protect our coasts from waves, storms, and floods. Sanctuaries like National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa work to protect coral reefs from threats like climate change, overfishing, and marine debris. You can help, too, no matter where you live. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck
Aug. 13, 2016: The waters near Monitor National Marine Sanctuary hold the remains of a number of ships sunk during World War II's Battle of the Atlantic -- including this German U-boat. U-352 was sunk by the USS Icarus on May 9, 1942 and now rests 115 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic. Learn more about this shipwreck. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a warty sea slug
Aug. 12, 2016: Its pattern may remind you of a Jackson Pollock painting, but this warty sea slug (Dendrodoris warta) is an artist all its own. Found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia, these nudibranchs lay their eggs in lace-like ribbons. Though not the most common nudibranch on the reef, it is fairly conspicuous as it grows to roughly the size of a baseball. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a fluffy chick
Aug. 11, 2016: This regal-looking fluffball is a white tern, or manu-o-kū in Hawaiian. This tiny tern was spotted on Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. White terns are found throughout the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where instead of building nests, they lay their singled speckled egg on a small depression on a branch, roof or other surface. Such minimalism! (Photo: Carlie Wiener/NOAA)
photo of a gorgeous sunset on the beach
Aug. 10, 2016: Drumroll please! First place in the "Sanctuary Views" category of the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest goes to Jason Jaskowiak, with this gorgeous sunset shot at a foaga site on Tutuila in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The basins in volcanic rock seen here are known as foaga -- they were ground down in the process of making and sharpening stone tools. The sanctuary at American Samoa works closely with the government and people of American Samoa to protect important cultural and natural resources. Check out all the winning photos here. (Photo: Jason Jaskowiak)
photo of rocks stacked on a beach
Aug. 9, 2016: Behold! A gorgeous view of Ruby Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- and the second place winner of our "Sanctuary Views" category in the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest! Congrats to Selah Preskey Martin on this awesome shot, and thanks for sharing! This photo is rockin'. Check out all the winning photos here. (Photo: Selah Preskey Martin)
photo of a school of fish
Aug. 8, 2016: This week we're celebrating the winners of the "Sanctuary Views" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest. Today, our third place entry comes from Daryl Duda, visitor to Molasses Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. French, bluestriped, caesar, and Spanish grunts, yellow goatfish, and gray, lane, and mahogany snappers all swim together in this gorgeous reef scene. Congrats, Daryl! And thanks from all of us for sharing your work. What a great example of biodiversity in the Florida Keys! See all the photo contest winners here. (Photo: Daryl Duda)
photo of a monk seal
Aug. 7, 2016: Who could resist that face?! Hawaiian monk seals like this individual are endemic to the state of Hawaii, meaning they can only be sound in Hawaiian waters. With only an estimated 1,100 individuals remaining in the area, Hawaiian monk seals are currently considered critically endangered. Folks at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and NOAA Fisheries Service are working hard to protect these seals. But everyone can help! Marine debris is one of the threats monk seals face, so by reducing the amount of plastic we use, keeping our trash out of the water, and assisting with cleanups, we can all help these seals survive. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a baracuda
Aug. 6, 2016: Say what?! You can help make decisions about national marine sanctuaries too?! Yes you can! Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has proposed an expansion, and members of the public are invited to share their thoughts. The proposed expansion could bring an additional 15 banks under the protection of the sanctuary, protecting important cultural resources, habitats and homes for marine life like this fish! Comments received will be used to help develop a final environmental impact statement outlining the new protected area. Comments are due by August 19th. Learn more about the proposal and how you can comment here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a baracuda
Aug. 5, 2016: Behold, the barracuda swimming solo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Did you know these fish can swim in burst of up to 35 miles per hour? Pretty impressive for this ocean hunter. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a olympic coast
Aug. 4, 2016: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! First place in our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest (Sanctuary Portraits category) goes to Selah Preskey Martin, with this beautiful portrait of a photographer capturing the sunset at Second Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Congrats to Selah for capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of Olympic Coast. (Photo: Selah Preskey Martin)
photo of a diver and fish
Aug. 3, 2016: Today, we share with you the second place winner of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest, in the Sanctuary Portraits category! Here, the photographer's wife dives on Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a sunken ship and artificial reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Congrats Steve Miller, and thank you for your entry! Check back in tomorrow to see who took first place, and see all the winning photos here. (Photo: Steve Miller)
photo of a diver and fish
Aug. 2, 2016: Winners of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest have been decided! Over the next three weeks, we'll be sharing the winners from each of our contest categories -- Sanctuary Portraits, Sanctuary Views, and Sanctuary Life -- on social media. This week we're proud to feature the winners of our Sanctuary Portraits category! Cindy Shaw takes third place with this incredible shot of a diver visiting Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Beginning his descent from a dive boat, this diver was greeted by schools of fish surrounding the rocky reefs of San Miguel Island. Congratulations to Cindy! Check back in tomorrow to see who took second place, and see all the winning photos here. (Photo: Cindy Shaw)
photo of a minke whale breaching
Aug. 1, 2016: Oh minke oh my! On a recent whale watch tour in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, visitors had the pleasure of viewing a rather uncommon sight. A minke whale put on quite the show with a series of breaches through sanctuary waters! Minke whales rarely exhibit breaching behavior, and don't raise their flukes above the surface when diving deep into the water either. Their small size, pointy snout and short flippers make their movements quick and smooth at the surface -- what an incredible view! (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA)
photo of a squid
July 31, 2016: Time for that Sunday afternoon nap? This elephant seal resting on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary couldn't agree more. Adult elephant seals like this one may remain on the beach for up to two months throughout the duration of the reproductive season (December through March along the California coast). Remember -- if you see an elephant seal or any other wildlife on the beach, make sure to give it plenty of space! Learn more here. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
photo of a tiger shark
July 30, 2016: The ACCESS Partnership is a collaborative research program established between Point Blue Conservation Science, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. For 13 years now, ACCESS has gathered scientific information about the distribution and abundance of marine life in the context of oceanographic events like El Niño and climate change. This little squid was found in a May survey of sanctuary waters. Researchers just finished their most recent survey, so stay tuned for news of what they've seen! Learn more about ACCESS. (Photo: Maps for Good -- NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS)
photo of a tiger shark
July 29, 2016: What better day than International Tiger Day to celebrate the tigers of the sea -- tiger sharks! Tiger sharks are found in several national marine sanctuaries, including Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, where this one was photographed. As apex predators, tiger sharks are incredibly important in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems. But despite their important role in ocean health, tiger sharks face a number of threats, including marine debris and commercial fishing. It's up to us to protect them -- and the marine ecosystems they benefit. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of diver and a shipwreck
July 28, 2016: Hoping to squeeze in those last few summer adventures? Head out to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron! This national marine sanctuary protects one of the best-preserved and most historically-significant collections of shipwrecks in the country. Plus, many shipwrecks in the sanctuary, like the steam barge B.W. Blanchard pictured here, are shallow enough to investigate while snorkeling! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of humpback whales eating
July 27, 2016: Humpback whale a cappella? Not quite -- but just as incredible! Here, a group of humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary feed on krill and small fish, a food source the whales trek to Stellwagen Bank for every summer and fall. Some pods of humpback whales even practice what's called bubble net feeding, a complex, cooperative feeding behavior where they corral fish into a cylinder of bubbles from which the whole pod can feed. While some individuals blow bubbles, others dive below the cylinder and work to move fish toward the surface. Still others vocalize to drive fish into the bubble "net"! It's thought that by working together, the whales can catch more fish than they would by themselves. (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of an octopus
July 26, 2016: Check this amazing octopus out! This summer, we've teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Recently, the Nautilus' ROV spotted this octopus in Arguello Canyon near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Click here to learn more about the expedition and how you can watch the dives live online! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of bleached coral
July 25, 2016: Where did all the color go? This staghorn coral in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa has bleached. When corals experience stress, they release the photosynthetic algae that give them their bright colors, help remove metabolic wastes, and provide corals with food. So why are corals releasing these important algae?

When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heat-trapping blanket, warming the planet. This added warmth does help zooxanthellae photosynthesize -- but the increased rate of photosynthesis can put these algae in a sort of "overdrive" that doesn't give them time to repair their tissues. When they can't repair, zooxanthellae start to release compounds toxic to corals. In response, corals expel algae from their tissues to avoid further damage. Without their algae, corals can die.

How can we slow this process down and protect our oceans? By working with your community to reduce our fossil fuel usage, you can help protect the health of corals daily -- no matter where you live! What will your community do to help support coral reefs? (Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

photo of a flock of sanderlings on the beach
July 24, 2016: Talk about squad goals! Each winter, flocks of sanderlings like this crew can be found combing the beaches of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for tasty marine invertebrates brought to the beach in waves. Biologists have called their endless beach-combing the "wave chase," as it appears they're playfully chasing foamy waves up and down the beach. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a nudibranch and an urchin
July 23, 2016: Brighten up your weekend with this Hopkins' rose nudibranch! These tiny invertebrates -- only up to about an inch long! -- are found in tide pools from southern California to Oregon. This one was spotted on the very first diving expedition by NOAA divers in the newly expanded Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite type of nudibranch? (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA
photo of a group of northern fur seals on the beach
July 22, 2016: We hope your weekend is swell! Here, a group of northern fur seals haul out on San Miguel Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Behind them, a swell caused by 2014's Tropical Storm Douglas moves in toward the beach. These fur seals didn't seem to mind the sea breeze and big waves. (Photo: Kristin Wilkinson)
photo of a spiny lobster up close
July 21, 2016: Aloha from this Hawaiian spiny lobster in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Spiny lobsters are important predators in reef ecosystems, and are protected in Hawaii's waters during specific times of year. During the summer months (right now, yes!), spiny lobsters enter into their peak reproductive season. To help protect lobsters, and ensure sustainability of reef ecosystems, the state of Hawaii prohibits capture or sale of spiny lobsters like this one from May through August. If you're in the area, watch out for these lobsters, and be sure to give them space during this important time of year. You can help protect reef ecosystems too! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a whale under water
July 20, 2016: Say hasta lu-whale-go to this humpback whale swimming off into the cerulean waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Humpback whales visit the sanctuary from November to May each year to mate, calve, and nurse their young before heading off to their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Alaska. The tail of a humpback whale, or "flukes," can be up to 5 meters across! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a moray eel
July 19, 2016: What's that?? Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary might be expanding?? This spotted moray eel may be surprised, but we're thrilled that the sanctuary has proposed an expansion. The expansion would bring an additional 15 banks under the protection of the sanctuary -- like McGrail Bank, where this moray eel was spotted -- offering protection to important habitats and cultural resources throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Now, we're inviting you to take part in the decision process! You can share your perspective on the proposal by submitting comments online by August 19th, or if you're in Louisiana or Alabama, you can take part in public meetings this week. Find out how to submit your official comments here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
July 18, 2016: What happens to a shipwreck on the ocean floor? Often, it becomes an artificial reef, home to all kinds of marine life. The City of Atlanta, pictured here, sank on January 19, 1942 in what is now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Many of these wrecks, located off the coast of North Carolina's Outer Banks, could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a crab up close
July 17, 2016: Feeling crabby that the weekend is almost over? You're in good company! These two Callinectes crabs were spotted in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a boulder in the water in Olympic Coast
July 16, 2016: Happy anniversary to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! From plankton to puffins to gray whales, this sanctuary helps protect dozens of species that thrive in Pacific Northwestern waters. The sanctuary also works closely with the Quinault Indian Nation and the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute tribes to shape policy, research and education programs and to protect the marine environment these cultures have depended on for centuries. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a jellyfish
July 15, 2016: Today's the last day to submit your photos to our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! We can't wait to see these special places through your eyes. Find out how to submit your photos here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA, taken in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
July 14, 2016: A diver inspects the bow of the wreck of the steel bulk freighter Grecian, where it rests in Lake Huron's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. After unexpectedly taking on water during a trip to Detroit for repairs, Grecian sank near Thunder Bay Island in 1906. Fortunately, its crew escaped in lifeboats. Today, Grecian's bow and stern lie intact in the sanctuary's waters. Explore an interactive map of the shipwreck! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a spinner dolphin
July 13, 2016: Don't let go! Remoras like the ones attached to this Hawaiian spinner dolphin in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary use a special sucker on the top of their head to hold on to larger animals. Scientists believe this relationship benefits both parties: the remora gets a free meal from whatever parasites, dead skin, or bits of food are on their host's body, while the host (like this dolphin) gets a cleaning. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit 14097)
photo of a school of whitespotted surgeonfish
July 12, 2016: What's the only U.S. national marine sanctuary located in the Southern Hemisphere? National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! This sanctuary protects coral reefs and an enormous diversity of marine life -- like these gorgeous whitespotted surgeonfish and tanfaced parrotfish. Learn more about this lush sanctuary and how it works to protect marine ecosystems. (Photo: Kevin Lino/NOAA)
photo of feathery crinoids
July 11, 2016: Crinoids, like these in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, are common invertebrates found on the seafloor. Attaching to rocks, sponges, or corals, these animals feed on microorganisms in the water column by trapping them in their sticky, raised feathery arms! (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA)
photo of a brittle stars
July 10, 2016: Male ruby brittle stars sit atop a brain coral in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, not long before a mass coral spawning event in the sanctuary. Every year, 7-10 days after the August full moon, the reef-building corals put on one of the most abundant spawning displays in the entire Caribbean! Check out what scientists have learned about these events and what they're still investigating. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck and turtle
July 9, 2016: Sunk by a German U-boat during World War II some 25 years after its construction, the wreck of the tanker Ashkhabad now rests in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Sitting in 55 feet of water, the wreck is home to a vibrant community of marine life -- like this loggerhead sea turtle! Ashkhabad is one ship that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the shipwreck at here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a propeller of a shipwreck
July 8, 2016: The wreck of the tug Duncan City rests only 15 feet below the surface of Lake Huron in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Much of the stern of this sunken vessel is still intact, offering divers a unique chance to explore one of the many treasures protected in Thunder Bay. What's your favorite sanctuary spot to dive in? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a sea urchin and coral
July 7, 2016: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is proposing an expansion! The sanctuary currently protects three nationally-significant reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, and an expansion could protect an additional 15 banks. The expansion would bring valuable habitats and resources under sanctuary management, and could support several important aspects of Deepwater Horizon-related and wider Gulf of Mexico habitat restoration. Public meetings will be held in the coming weeks to allow the public to comment on the expansion decision. Can't make the meetings? Learn how to comment on the proposal online. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of birds on top of a humpback whale
July 6, 2016: Catch a ride to a sanctuary near you -- like these gulls cruising on the nose of a humpback whale surfacing in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Elliot Hazen/NOAA Fisheries Permit #14245)
photo of a bright kelp crab
July 5, 2016: Got a "pinch" of creativity like this kelp crab photographed by former Nancy Foster Scholar Nyssa Silbiger in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Then grab your camera and head out to a sanctuary near you! Through July 15th, we're hosting a photo contest to celebrate our national marine sanctuaries the way you see them. For submission details and more, click here. We can't wait to see your favorite shots! (Photo: Nyssa Silbiger)
photo of a bright anemone
July 4, 2016: Happy Fourth of July from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries! What better underwater fireworks than this fish-eating anemone in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: NOAA)
photo of an albatross looking at plastic
July 3, 2016: Fourth of July weekend represents one of the busiest weekends for our nation's coastlines -- and as you work to find the perfect perch on the beach this weekend, don't forget the animals who call those beaches home! Amidst all the holiday fun, it can be easy to forget to pick up those plastic soda bottles, lighters, food wrappers and straws you brought with you to the beach. The trash and debris we leave behind can easily make it into our ocean -- and into the lives of the marine wildlife thats call it home. Trash is a major threat to ocean life and ecosystems, so doing your part to pick up after yourself on the beach can have a profound, positive impact on the lives of animals like this Laysan albatross and chick inspecting a pile of disposable cigarette lighters picked up during a NOAA Marine Debris cleanup in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This weekend, save some plastic and save a life! Opt to bring re-usable containers and pick up your trash as you leave the beach. (Photo: David Slater/NOAA)
photo of a shark and fish
July 2, 2016: Shark Week is coming to a close, and we can't miss highlighting one of the most famous inhabitants of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- the white shark, or great white! Although this one was photographed off the coast of Mexico, white sharks are found throughout the ocean and many depend on the rich waters of Greater Farallones, off the coast of California, for food. White sharks are tremendous creatures, but often misunderstood: we seem to be a far greater threat to them than they are to us, as sharks are frequently caught as bycatch, and they provide a crucial ecosystem service by keeping marine food webs in check. Scientists at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are currently working to protect and better understand these sharks. (Photo: George T. Probst, winner of the National Ocean Service's 2015 World Ocean Day photo contest)
photo of a woman on a kayak gathering trash
July 1, 2016: Heading to the beach this weekend for the Fourth of July? Why not celebrate Clean Beaches Week at the same time? We share our beaches with many marine species, and that trash left behind after your picnic on the beach can easily make it into the ocean. So when you're out on the beach this week -- and throughout the year -- celebrate clean beaches with us! Remember not to leave behind trash, and pick up any pet waste as well. If you'd like to extend your celebration and get involved with cleanups throughout the year like this kayaker in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, check out a sanctuary visitors center near you and inquire about events! If each of us works to keep our beaches clean, we can help improve the health of our ocean and protect the species that call it home. (Photo: Robert Keeley/NOAA)
photo of nurse sharks
June 30, 2016: Hitting that mid-week slump like these two nurse sharks resting in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary? Embrace it! Nurse sharks have very low activity levels -- the lowest metabolic activity of all sharks. Nocturnal, these sharks remain at rest on reefs, rocks or in crevices during the day, exhibiting activity only at night when they venture out to hunt for food. Even when hunting, their energy use is low. Nurse sharks sift crustaceans, mollusks and other prey items out of sediment to feed rather than chasing after quick and agile prey! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a nurse shark
June 29, 2016: Who goes there? Just a couple of sand tiger sharks on the wreck of Caribsea! Early in the morning of March 11, 1942, Caribsea was struck by a German U-boat's torpedo while traveling to Norfolk, Virginia with a cargo of manganese ore. The ship sank in under two minutes, and after drifting for approximately ten hours while clinging on to the wreckage, the seven surviving crew members were picked up by the steamship Norlandia. Today, Caribsea rests in 85 feet of water, where it now sustains a rich marine ecosystem for organisms from algae to sharks. This is one wreck that may be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary -- learn more about the proposed expansion here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a coral reef and fish
June 28, 2016: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects six distinct areas within American Samoa, including Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. Rose Atoll gets its name from the pink coralline algae that grows in its fringing reef, and is home to hundreds of species of fish, coral, and other marine organisms. What can you spot here? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of a whale shark
June 27, 2016: It's Shark Week! And we're diving in with a tribute to the lovable, largest known fish in the sea: the whale shark. Despite their size, relatively little is known about whale sharks. But we do know that they are filter feeders just like baleen whales! They can even feed while stationary, suctioning water into their mouths to feed on zooplankton and small fish. Because whale sharks live in tropical and temperate waters, however, food for these gentle giants can be relatively scarce. Whale sharks often migrate great distances to find areas near the coasts with greater food availability. That migration brings them right into Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary at times, where nutrients from the outflow of the Mississippi River can cause massive phytoplankton blooms these whales like to feed on! (Photo: Jesse Cancelmo)
photo of people in cardboard boats
June 26, 2016: This is a totally normal way to cross the Thunder Bay River, right? Here, teams compete in the Cardboard Boat Regatta, a mainstay of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Thunder Bay Maritime Festival. There are tons of amazing ways to enjoy your national marine sanctuaries! Discover them all here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a man and his son looking at a lighthouse
June 25, 2016: National marine sanctuaries help protect our most important ocean and Great Lakes resources while supporting local economies and serving as unique, natural places where Americans can enjoy a variety of recreational activities. These sanctuary visitors take in the majestic view of the historic Point Arena lighthouse near Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Let us know how you enjoy your national marine sanctuaries using the hashtag ‪#‎ILoveMySanctuary‬, and check out our Get Into Your Sanctuary events at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit/giys.html! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a man swimming
June 24, 2016: The 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration is this weekend, and we'd love to hear which sanctuary you'll be enjoying next! This visitor enjoys a beautiful sunset surf in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and so can you. From surfing to kayaking, fishing, and swimming, our national marine sanctuaries are open for your enjoyment. Not a fan of water sports? No problem! Check out what educational and volunteer events sanctuaries around the country are offering this weekend! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a vampire squid
June 23, 2016: What makes this squid such a special sight? Vampire squid lack ink sacks. Rather than ejecting ink in defense, these squid expel a bioluminescent mucus from their arm tips when they sense a threat! Named for its dark color and red-ringed eyes, this juvenile vampire squid surprised researchers ascending from a mission in Sur Ridge in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA/MBARI) — with Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
photo of an octopus
June 22, 2016: A day octopus or he’e mauli (in Hawaiian), sits pretty at Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Many cephalopods have special cells in their skin tissue called chromatophores that enable them to change color very rapidly. A part of their neuromuscular system, these cells receive signals from the environment that an octopus can use to inform color change. Octopodes of this particular species can change color almost instantly as they move over their environment, making them nearly invisible to predators! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
June 21, 2016: It's Cephalopod Week, and all week we'll be sharing photos of these miracle mollusks! Today, check out this octopus that Nautilus Live spotted on a recent ROV dive near Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. We've teamed up with the E/V Nautilus to explore the deep habitats of many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries this summer. Learn more and watch livestreams of the dives at nautiluslive.org! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of a woman fishing
June 20, 2016: We're reeling with excitement for the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration this weekend, June 25th and 26th! Whether you love fishing, boating, kayaking, or walks on the beach, national marine sanctuaries are open for your enjoyment. Check out all of the events planned for this year's Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration here and let us know which sanctuary will be your recreation destination this summer! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA, taken in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a fish with red eyes
June 19, 2016: Happy Father's Day! Cabezon are found in national marine sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Male cabezon are watchful fathers, guarding over their eggs until they hatch. How are you celebrating your dad today? (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
June 18, 2016: Happy cephalopod week from this octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! The sanctuary protects three special ecosystems within the Gulf of Mexico, which harbor an incredible array of marine life. And recently, NOAA announced that the sanctuary has proposed an expansion of its boundaries! Learn more about the proposed expansion and how you can weigh. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a pinto abalone
June 17, 2016: Pinto abalone, like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, depend on their beautiful shells for protection from predators like sea otters, fish and crabs. But changes to ocean chemistry are making it harder for them to build these shells. What will you do to take care of these precious ocean inhabitants?

When we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, we release rampant carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, and in recent years, this rampant carbon dioxide has been changing its chemistry, making the water more acidic. This ocean acidification affects the amount of building material -- calcium carbonate -- available to organisms like pinto abalone. So while juvenile pinto abalone like this one are trying to build their shells, it's harder to find that building material and the abalone's shell becomes weaker.

The loss of organisms like abalone can affect an entire ecosystem, since many animals depend on abalone for food. But there's good news: by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere, we can help these animals survive. By working together to support and use renewable energy, we can protect important species like the pinto abalone. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

photo of a hawksbill turtle up close
June 16, 2016: It's World Sea Turtle Day! Sea turtles like this hawksbill in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary have existed on Earth for 100 million years, but threats like climate change, hunting, egg harvesting and marine debris have made it much harder for them to survive. Because sea turtles are migratory species, we all need to work together to help protect turtles. Simple actions like turning off beach lights at night during nesting seasons, reducing the amount of plastic waste you produce, and being mindful of sea turtle presence when boating can help sea turtles thrive. Let's all work to help protect these amazing species! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a sea turtle up close
June 15, 2016: Happy tenth anniversary to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Ten years ago today, Papahānaumokuākea was designated as Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act. One year later, the monument received its Hawaiian name, Papahānaumokuākea, in honor of the rich Hawaiian culture within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Since its formation, the monument has worked tirelessly to protect the more than 7,000 marine species that call the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands home, like this green sea turtle -- or honu in Hawaiian. Learn more about this special place. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a school of fish
June 14, 2016: This could be you! From Monterey Bay to the Florida Keys, national marine sanctuaries provide some incredible diving opportunities to explore coral reefs, shipwrecks, kelp forests, and more. Here, a diver swims through a swirling school of fish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Not a diver? No worries! There are tons of things to do in your national marine sanctuaries! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of purple and green coral
June 13, 2016: Beautiful, brightly colored corals like this striking purple coral paint the tropical reef found at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. But the species responsible for the "painted" colors of coral are actually algae living within the coral, called zooxanthellae. These algae have mutualistic relationships with coral, where the coral provide algae with compounds they need to carry out photosynthesis, and the algae produce oxygen, which helps the corals remove wastes from their tissues. These mutualistic relationships can help drive the growth of tropical reefs! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of 3 california gull chicks
June 12, 2016: Chick us out! Three California gull chicks congregate in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. California gulls are just one species of gull that can be found in the Channel Islands. The topography and currents in the area create a biologic transition zone teeming with life. This gives chicks like these ample opportunity to feed! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a feather duster worm
June 11, 2016: This feather duster worm in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary waves its feathery arms to feed. Did you know that the majority of these worms' bodies actually remain hidden in thick cylinders that they form from sediment particles and mucus? The fan part we see here is just the "head" of these amazing creatures that allows them to filter feed. Some fossils of feather duster worms date back to the early Jurassic period! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a humbackwhale eating
June 10, 2016: Look out! Whale watching season has returned in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Every summer, humpback whales flock to the sanctuary to feed on krill and small fish, making this ocean spot one of the world's premiere whale watching locations. Come join us for a whale watching tour guided by trained naturalists this summer! For more information on tour companies and dates, click here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a flamingo tounge snail
June 9, 2016: PHOTO CONTEST: Have you submitted your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest yet? From closeup shots of flamingo tongue snails in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to portraits of your friends and family enjoying these special ocean and Great Lakes places, we can't wait to see the National Marine Sanctuary System through your eyes. Learn how you can submit your photos here. We can't wait to see what you've got! (Photo: Dawn Ross)
photo of cliffs and the ocean and a sunset
June 8, 2016: Happy World Ocean Day! Whether you live near or far from our magnificent ocean, we can all celebrate the gift of the sea! From feeding us to providing oxygen, regulating our climate and more, there are myriad ways the ocean impacts our daily life. And our daily life, in turn, impacts the ocean. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas to heat our homes and power our cars, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some of this carbon dioxide dissolves into our precious ocean. This carbon dioxide changes the chemistry of our ocean and makes it more acidic, which can make it very difficult for shelled organisms and others to maintain their shells and survive. The loss of even a few organisms can have major impacts on ecosystems and a widespread effect on the health of our ocean. But by working together in our communities, we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce and help protect our ocean and its inhabitants. From supporting public transit to encouraging community incentives for renewable electricity, there are tons of things we can do to make a difference. So today, ride the wave of progress with us. What will you and your community do to help protect our ocean? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of an octopus
June 7, 2016: This octopus is going places -- and so is Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Today the sanctuary announced a proposed expansion of its boundaries. The proposed expansion would provide additional protection and management of habitats that are the engines of sustainability for much of the Gulf of Mexico, and for the species that call them home. Learn more about the proposal, and how you can comment here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a kid and a surfboard
June 6, 2016: From surfing in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to scuba diving in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, there's something for everything in your national marine sanctuaries. Which one will you visit next? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a monk seal
June 5, 2016: The Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest is under way! As a part of Get Into Your Sanctuary days, we're hosting a photo contest to help celebrate the wonder of our national marine sanctuaries. This amazing shot of a Hawaiian monk seal is just one example of some of the incredible photos shared by our viewers. This photograph was taken by Michael Kriver while onboard a NOAA research cruise in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Michael explains that the monk seal was very interested in the remote sensing instruments used on the expedition, and we're excited to hear more about all of your marine adventures! Our contest ends on July 15th, so be sure to enter before the deadline for a chance to have your photo featured on our website and social media. Click here for more information on how to participate. (Photo: Michael Krivor) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a purple sea urchin
June 4, 2016: Say hello to the purple sea urchin! Found in West Coast sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, these little urchins inhabit tide pools and kelp forests, where they eat algae like kelp, as well as other decayed matter. Have you spotted a purple sea urchin while visiting a sanctuary? (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of people doing yoga on the beach
June 3, 2016: Why do yoga indoors when you can do it with a view of your national marine sanctuary? Here, a group of visitors enjoy the tranquility of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary at Second Beach with a little morning practice. And from boating to fishing, hiking, kayaking, and even beach yoga, there are dozens of ways to enjoy our national marine sanctuaries. Wish it were you in this photo? Check out upcoming Get Into Your Sanctuary events! (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
photo of a voluteer cleaning up the beach
June 2, 2016: Trash travels: even small pieces of litter dropped far inland can travel down your watershed and into the ocean, where they threaten animals like sea turtles and seabirds. But now, you can help NOAA Marine Debris monitor marine debris so we can better respond to this threat to the ocean and its inhabitants! Become a citizen scientist and participate in the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project. Check out the toolbox to learn how to get started. (Photo: Kate Bimrose/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a goliath grouper
June 1, 2016: This awesome shot of a goliath grouper was taken by sanctuary visitor Dawn Ross in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Have an amazing sanctuary photo? Submit it to the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest and you could see it featured on our website and social media! Find more details and contest rules here. We can't wait to see your photos! (Photo: Dawn Ross)
photo of navy officers folding a flag
May 30, 2016: This Memorial Day, we honor all those who have given their lives in service of our nation. The first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the shipwreck and commemorates the crew of our nation's first ironclad naval vessel, the USS Monitor. Sixteen crew members lost their lives when the USS Monitor sank in a storm in 1862. In 2013, two of these sailors -- whose remains were discovered in the ironclad's turret when it was recovered from the seafloor -- were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: David Hall/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of moray eel
May 31, 2016: Ahoy there! A juveline stout moray eel pops its head out from shelter provided by the coral Porites evermanni in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. A moray eel's open mouth isn't necessarily a sign of aggression; they must constantly open and close their mouths so that they can pump water over their gills! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of navy officers folding a flag
May 30, 2016: This Memorial Day, we honor all those who have given their lives in service of our nation. The first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the shipwreck and commemorates the crew of our nation's first ironclad naval vessel, the USS Monitor. Sixteen crew members lost their lives when the USS Monitor sank in a storm in 1862. In 2013, two of these sailors -- whose remains were discovered in the ironclad's turret when it was recovered from the seafloor -- were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: David Hall/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a nudibranch
May 29, 2016: Say hello to the painted elysia! This beautiful little nudibranch was photographed next to an Agaricia coral in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite nudibranch? (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a school of fish
May 28, 2016: Schooled! The tropical coral reefs of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, the most remote national marine sanctuary, teem with life. What can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a man cleaning up a beach
May 27, 2016: "The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction." -- Rachel Carson Happy birthday to "the mother of the age of ecology," Rachel Carson! Rachel Carson believed we are all responsible for caring for our natural world, and her dedication to environmental preservation has inspired generations of men and women. We can all do our part to carry on Carson's legacy and become better stewards of our blue planet, whether it's through removing marine debris or reducing our carbon footprints. Here, a member of the NOAA Marine Debris team helps disentangle a Laysan albatross chick in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Ryan Tabata/NOAA)
photo of divers doing research
May 26, 2016: Lake Huron's cold, fresh water ensures that the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are among the best-preserved in the world. These well-preserved shipwrecks are excellent sites for archaeological research to better understand the region's maritime heritage. Here, graduate students from the East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies document an anchor from the three-masted barkentine Ogarita, which wrecked in north of Thunder Bay Island in 1905. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of pufferfish and seagrass
May 25, 2016: It's Safe Boating Week! You can help to protect important marine ecosystems through safe boating practices. In Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, seagrass beds provide home and food to a number of marine organisms, from fish to manatees. These seagrass beds also help trap sediment particles and even filter nutrients from stormwater runoff and industrial waste out of the water column before those compounds reach sensitive habitats like coral reefs! However, when boating, you can damage this important habitat. You may have seen the damage yourself in zig-zag lines in the sand amongst seagrass meadows where propellors have dislodged seagrass from the ocean floor. Help protect this valuable natural resource by avoiding boating in shallow seagrass beds. If you do find yourself in a shallow seagrass bed, stop immediately and tilt your engine, then pole or push your boat into deeper water. Pufferfish like this one in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will thank you! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of lincod in anemone
May 24, 2016: Peek-a-boo, we see you! Here, a lingcod lies camouflaged against the colorful invertebrates in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Today marks the sanctuary's 27th anniversary, and we are very proud of the work the sanctuary has done to protect its incredible, colorful marine ecosystems. Here's to another year! (Photo: Robert Lee/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬‬
photo of a sea turtle
May 23, 2016: Happy World Turtle Day from this curious green sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! These sea turtles travel hundreds of miles across open ocean every year to reach their mating and nesting grounds. While Hawai'i's green sea turtle population has increased in recent years, they are still threatened by poaching and by entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris. You can help these gentle creatures by keeping trash out of the ocean! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‬
photo of colorful fish and coral
May 22, 2016: Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity! Biodiversity helps maintain productive, healthy ecosystems in our ocean and Great Lakes. The rocky outcroppings and ledges of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provide homes for a diverse assemblage of invertebrates like sponges, fan corals, and sea stars, and attract numerous species of fish like this painted wrasse. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)‬
photo of diver holding coral that had become dislodged
May 21, 2016: Last August, a vessel grounded on South Carysfort reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, crushing part of the reef framework and dislodging almost two square meters of living coral colonies. Fortunately, sanctuary staff were there to help! After assessing the injury to the reef, they gathered the dislodged coral heads and re-stabilized the loose colonies using Portland cement. This April, sanctuary staff returned to inspect the reattached corals. Great news: the 60 reattached corals appear to be thriving and passed the "jiggle test" to see if they were stable with flying colors! (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a monk seal
May 20, 2016: It's Endangered Species Day! The National Marine Sanctuary System provides safe haven for endangered species like this Hawaiian monk seal in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered: fewer than 1,100 remain in the wild. Threats of marine debris and starvation continue to impact monk seal populations, but Papahānaumokuākea and NOAA Fisheries Service work hard to combat these threats and protect monk seals throughout the Hawaiian islands. Learn how you can help protect this endangered species here. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of diver and wreck
May 19, 2016: Located in Lake Huron, just offshore from Alpena, Michigan, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to an incredible collection of shipwrecks. Collectively, these wrecks tell the story of over 200 years of shipping and commerce throughout the Great Lakes. The wreck of New Orleans, a wooden side wheel steamboat pictured here, found its watery grave on June 14th, 1849, after running into a reef during a dense fog at Thunder Bay. Local fisherman helped all passengers transfer safely to shore, but strong winds and waves claimed the steamboat only days after. Learn more about the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of reef with pink algae
May 18, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! This little whale and its mother are two of only about 500 North Atlantic right whales alive today. From December through March, these highly endangered whales bear their young in the coastal waters of Georgia and northern Florida, near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. And in spring, summer and fall, North Atlantic right whales feed in a large swath of ocean from New York to Nova Scotia. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just off the coast of Cape Cod, is a particularly popular feeding spot for this endangered whale species! By working together, marine protected areas like these can help endangered North Atlantic right whales survive. (Photo: Florida FWC, taken under NOAA permit #15488) ‬
photo of reef with pink algae
May 17, 2016:What makes Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa rosy? Coralline algae! Pink coralline algae dominates the atoll's fringing reef, giving the reef a rosy hue. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‬
photo of a diver and a uboat
May 16, 2016: Designated in 1975, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was the first established national marine sanctuary. Now, NOAA is considering expanding the sanctuary to protect other historic shipwrecks. U-701, a German U-boat sunk by a U.S. Army Air Force Hudson during World War II, is one ship that could be protected by an expanded sanctuary. Learn more about this shipwreck at here. (Photo: Steve Sellers/NOAA) ‬
photo of an octopus
May 15, 2016: What? The weekend is over already?! This octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary looks about as surprised as we are. Embrace this new week with the powerful eight arms of an octopus! (Photo: NURC/UNCW/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of terns
May 14, 2016: Today is International Migratory Bird Day! This common tern and its chicks were photographed not far from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, in Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of North American birds like the common tern were killed for their feathers. Feather-hunters often captured adult birds sitting still on nests because they were an easy target. But there's good news: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in combination with the creation of federally-protected areas like national marine sanctuaries, national parks, and national wildlife refuges, have protected critical food and nesting habitats for migratory birds from sea to shining sea. (Photo: USFWS) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of a roseate spoonbill
May 13, 2016: Shearwaters, like this one in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, fly close to the ocean's surface to pick up the scent of prey near the water's surface with their incredible sense of smell. This year, researchers at Stellwagen Bank will satellite tag 10 great shearwaters to study their movement. You can help out with the project by naming a shearwater to help scientists keep track of individual birds! Name submissions are due THIS SUNDAY. Learn how you can submit a name here. (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of a roseate spoonbill
May 12, 2016: Who needs a fork when you have a spoon? Roseate spoonbills can be spotted in the mangroves of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This bizarre and beautiful bird swishes its unique bill back and forth to scoop up water and filter out minnows, small crustaceans and insects to eat. (Photo: USFWS) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬
photo of 2 birds skimming the water
May 11, 2016: No fishing net required! Black skimmers have an uncommonly long lower mandible, which they use to skim the water. When they hit a fish, their bill snaps shut immediately to grab the fish. These seabirds can be found in national marine sanctuaries throughout the southeast United States. Have you spotted one? (Photo: Douglas Barnum/USGS)
photo of brown pelicans
May 10, 2016: Conservation success: In the early 1970s, brown pelicans were almost extinct. The pesticide DDT had made its way into the ocean food web through storm runoff, and when pelicans ate contaminated fish, the eggs they laid had perilously thin shells. But the ban of DDT and other pesticides has given birds like the brown pelican the opportunity to rebound. Now these birds can be found in abundance in many West Coast national marine sanctuaries! Take a moment with us this week and enjoy the richness birds offer our blue planet. (Photo: Roy W. Lowe/USFWS)
photo of a red bird
May 9, 2016: This scarlet tanager found "sanctuary" on the R/V Manta in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary during its long migration. Tanagers may travel as far north as Canada to reach their nesting sites. Thanks to the International Migratory Bird Treaty, colorful migratory songbirds like this one are protected from human threats. We're always pleased to see them dropping by in national marine sanctuaries! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)
photo of a white bird with a fish in it's mouth
May 8, 2016: Within the safeguarded waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, white terns are able to gather a bountiful feast of small fish and squid. This abundance of prey is critical for raising healthy chicks, who are fed whole squid or fish every three hours after hatching! Unlike many seabirds, white terns feed their chicks whole food items rather than regurgitated food. (Photo: C. Cornett/USFWS) 
photo of colorful tunicates
May 7, 2016: This amazing, vibrant community of tunicates in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary has an interesting tie to humans. Though they're invertebrates, tunicates are more closely related to vertebrates than most other invertebrate species. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪
photo of flounder
May 6, 2016: Once the loyal sidekick of Capfin America, the Winter Soldier -- er, we mean winter flounder -- is skilled at lying in wait on the sea floor of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Those crabs and shrimps never knew what hit them. (Photo: Deborah Marx/NOAA) (Photo: NOAA)
photo of diver and wreck
May 5, 2016: A diver inspects the wreck of a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver at rest in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This wreck is just one example of WWII history that can be found in the sanctuary. Discovered in 2010 by local dive shop owner Brad Varney, the wreck of the Helldiver is unique in that the tail number on the plane (rarely found) allowed for a speedy identification of the aircraft in its watery resting place. Both pilot and gunner's canopies remain open at the wreck, signs of the pilot and radiomen's safe evacuation from the aircraft. Learn more about WWII history in the sanctuary and diving in sanctuaries. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of orange star fish
May 4, 2016: May the 4th be with you on this fine Star Wars Day! Looks like the force wasn't quite strong enough with this spiny red sea star being attacked by a sun star in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Ehrm, does that make the sun star a death star? (Photo: Ed Bowlby/NOAA)
photo of people looking for whales
May 3, 2016: Gather 'round and get out those binoculars! With the help of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and a naturalist from Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, these students from Monte Rio School had the opportunity to see a gray whale during an Every Kid in a Park field trip. Through Every Kid In A Park, all fourth graders and their families have a unique opportunity to enjoy our country's natural wonders and protected places. Learn more here. (Photo: Jennifer Stock/NOAA)
photo of people kayaking
May 2, 2016: Where can you find incredible views, abundant wildlife, and amazing kayaking opportunities? Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! This Southern California sanctuary holds the promise of amazing adventure. Grab a paddle and hit the water on your own kayaking adventure this summer! Click here for more information. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a white rose that is nudibranch eggs
May 1, 2016: Catch a wave in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary this week! As a part of National Travel and Tourism Week, we'll be celebrating some of the adventures you can find on a trip to one of your national marine sanctuaries. Whether you're into surfing, kayaking, diving or wildlife watching, there's a pristine spot in one of our sanctuaries just for you. So pack a bag and head out the door! It's time to get into your sanctuary. Click here to learn more. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬

photo of a white rose that is nudibranch eggs
Apr. 30, 2016: This may look like a yellow rose, but it's actually a ribbon of nudibranch eggs found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! A single ribbon like this one can contain thousands of eggs. It's thought that laying the eggs in this evenly spaced spiral formation gives nudibranch eggs the best chance for survival. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of yellow kelp
Apr. 29, 2016: Happy Arbor Day! National marine sanctuaries may not have trees, but they do have kelp forests that serve as crucial habitats for many marine animals. Nancy Foster Scholar alumna Nyssa Silbiger snapped this amazing photo of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Nyssa Silbiger)
photo of waves and a colorful dark sky
Apr. 28, 2016: National marine sanctuaries don't only protect special places in the ocean -- they also protect Great Lakes waters like those of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, located in Lake Huron. And now, NOAA is considering an area in Lake Michigan for designation as a national marine sanctuary! The proposed Wisconsin - Lake Michigan site spans an 875-square-mile area that contains an extraordinary collection of some 39 shipwrecks. Learn more about the proposed site here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of whales
Apr. 27, 2016: Hawai'i is the only state in the United States where humpback whales go to mate, calve and nurse their young. Here, a humpback whale and calf glide gracefully through the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. It's thought that humpback whales might prefer the waters off the shores of Hawai'i during mating season because of the water's warmth, underwater visibility, and the lack of natural predators. But because calves often rest just beneath the water's surface, calves in these waters are particularly vulnerable to boat strikes. Next time you're visiting Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, you can help protect these amazing creatures by reporting any injured or entangled whales to NOAA's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. (Photo: J. Moore/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a manta ray
Apr. 26, 2016: Don't be fooled by their enormous size -- manta rays eat tiny plankton! Each manta ray has unique markings on its underside, helping researchers in places like Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary identify each individual. Learn more about manta monitoring in the sanctuary here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of whales
Apr. 25, 2016: Whale hello there! Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Dr. Sarah Swope took this amazing photo of lunge feeding humpback whales. Each summer and fall, humpback whales visit the sanctuary in search of krill and small fish. Have you taken an awesome photo in your national marine sanctuaries? Click here to learn how you could see it featured on our social media. (Photo: Sarah Swope) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬

photo of an albatross looking at a toothbrush on the beach
Apr. 24, 2016: Trash travels: every year, several NOAA offices collaborate to support a marine debris removal effort in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Last year, the Marine Debris team removed 705 toothbrushes and personal care items from the shorelines of Midway Atoll -- and this year they continue to find similar items. Follow their cleanup efforts on our Instagram (@noaasanctuaries) and learn how you can help at here. (Photo: David Slater/NOAA PIFSC CREP) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬‬

photo of white bird with blue eyes
Apr. 23, 2016: Look at those baby blues! Capable of surviving in many different habitats, the white ibis is just one bird species that can be found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These birds use their long bills to probe for prey like crustaceans and small fish in shallow water. What other birds have you seen in the area? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬

photo of colorful coral and fish
Apr. 22, 2016: Happy Earth Day! Beneath the waves, you can find amazing biodiversity in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. What are you doing today to celebrate and protect our Earth? Photo: Clinton Bauder/BAUE

fish swimming around the wreck of the HMT Bedfordshire
Apr. 21, 2016: This isn't a natural reef -- it's a shipwreck! On May 12, 1942, the HMT Bedfordshire was hit by a German U-boat's torpedo in what is now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The torpedo prompted a massive explosion nearly lifted the small vessel out of the water, sinking it immediately. Sadly, no Bedfordshire sailors survived that day. Now, the wreck lies under 105 feet of water and supports new life like fish and marine invertebrates. Some shipwrecks within the Graveyard of the Atlantic could be protected by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in the future, as the sanctuary has recently proposed a boundary expansion. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a sunset
Apr. 20, 2016: Is there anything better than watching the sunset from Santa Cruz Island? Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park overlap in the waters surrounding these beautiful islands off the coast of Southern California. By working together, the sanctuary and park ensure that these waters and their inhabitants -- like elephant seals, blue and humpback whales, and seabirds -- are protected for future generations. Learn more here. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a beach with palm trees
Apr. 19, 2016: Summer is almost here! And we can hear the waves calling in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Located among the culturally-rich islands of Polynesia, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is thought to support the greatest diversity of life in the National Marine Sanctuary System. Find a tropical mid-week escape and learn more about the amazing marine life in the sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a painting of a bright orange fish
Apr. 18, 2016: When she isn't in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary studying the distribution of demersal fish relative to deep-water corals, Nancy Foster Scholar Emily Aiken puts her work to canvas, painting images inspired by the deep-sea communities she studies. This beautiful painting is of a starry rockfish! Are you similarly inspired to pursue a career in research with a degree in oceanography, marine biology, or other sciences related to ocean and coastal environments? Learn more about the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship program here. (Image: Emily Aiken)
photo of a bat sea star
Apr. 17, 2016: It's Bat Appreciation Day! And while flying bats play an important ecological role on land, bat stars like this one found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary also provide important ecological services in the ocean, cleaning up dead organisms and algae. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a scenic shot of a boat on the ocean with huge clouds
Apr. 16, 2016: Have you taken an amazing photo in one of your national marine sanctuaries? Click here to learn how you could see it featured on our social media! (Photo: Karrie Carnes/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a volunteer holding a sea urchin
Apr. 15, 2016: As National Volunteer Week continues, we want to celebrate all the ways in which volunteers help make sanctuaries work. Jim Jewell (pictured here) has been volunteering with the National Marine Sanctuary System for more than 10 years! Since 2004, Jim has been volunteering at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary as a docent; he also helps train new docents on tidepooling organisms like this sea urchin. We are incredibly grateful for the continued dedication of volunteers like Jim! Learn how you can volunteer here. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
photo of a pod of dolphins
Apr. 14, 2016: National Dolphin Day is here! Spinner dolphins like this fancy crew in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument practice what is called a "fission fusion social pattern." This means that the dolphins "fuse" to form large social groups of more than 100 individuals to hunt at night and then separate into much smaller groups -- with as few as 12 individuals -- to socialize and rest during the day. (James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a whale tail
Apr. 13, 2016: Every humpback whale has a distinctive pattern on its fluke. These patterns are so unique that they can be used to identify individual whales, much like a human fingerprint -- so researchers rely on these patterns to track humpback whale populations. Every winter, thousands of humpback whales travel to their breeding and calving grounds in Hawaii, and each year, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary volunteers participate in three Sanctuary Ocean Counts to keep track of the visiting whales. Learn more about this year's Sanctuary Ocean Count results and how you can get involved next year here. (Photo: R. Finn/NOAA Permit #15240) ‪‬
photo of volunteers in turtle and shark costumes
Apr. 12, 2016: Each year, volunteers dedicate thousands of hours to helping sanctuaries work -- and this National Volunteer Week, we're celebrating all that they do! Why does Katie Miller (pictured in a turtle costume here) volunteer with Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary? "I support sanctuaries because I love our ocean and want to support the movement to conserve them," she explains. "I love volunteering with Gray's Reef both on a weekly basis and during special events like the Ocean Film Festival because it lets me be a part of making a difference for our planet." Learn more about how you can volunteer. (Photo: Judi Duffy)
photo of scientists deploying an rov
Apr. 11, 2016: It's National Submarine Day! Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) help researchers explore and understand marine environments. The ROV pictured here recently helped maritime archaeologists identify the wreck of the USS Conestoga, which disappeared in 1921 in what is now Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Because of the location of the wreck -- and the high concentration of white sharks in the waters near the Farallon Islands! -- researchers relied on this ROV, rather than divers, to get a clearer view of the shipwreck. Learn more about Conestoga here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a lobster up close
Apr. 10, 2016: What're you looking at? Good eyesight and long sensitive antennae help the California spiny lobster -- found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary -- keep watch for predators. Unlike many other species of lobster, California spiny lobsters don't have front claws; instead, they rely on a series of spines covering their exoskeleton for protection. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a colorful jellyfish
Apr. 9, 2016: Did you know that stingrays are actually cartilaginous fishes that are closely related to sharks? The round ribbontail ray, pictured here, is one species of ray that can be found in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. By protecting the health of coral reefs, we can help this vulnerable species -- and species like it -- survive! (Photo: Kelly Grimshaw/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a colorful jellyfish
Apr. 8, 2016: Go-with-the-flow-Friday: Though they can "swim" through the ocean by contracting their bell, jellies like this sea nettle in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary often simply float through the ocean, riding along currents. Sometimes, smaller organisms like fish or shrimp even hitch a ride on the bell as the sea nettle drifts through the water. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of segulls
Apr. 7, 2016: Glaucous-winged gulls are just one of the many seabird species that can be spotted in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Omnivorous, these birds forage for fish, mussels, sea urchins, crabs, eggs, and many other possible meals. Watch these gulls patrol the beach on your next visit to Olympic Coast! (Photo: Robert Steelquist/NOAA)
photo of a whale and a photo of elephant seals
Apr. 6, 2016: The results are in: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary has been named "Best Place to See Aquatic Life" by the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest! And Stellwagen Bank isn’t the only phenomenal place in the National Marine Sanctuary System to see marine life -- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary placed a close second. Learn more about these amazing marine sanctuaries and how you can visit them here. (Top photo: Jeremy Winn; Bottom photo: NOAA)
photo of a diver and artificial reef
Apr. 5, 2016: What happens to a shipwreck over time? Often, it becomes an artificial reef, home to corals and other vibrant marine life. The Ashkhabad is one such shipwreck: a Russian tanker, it was sunk by a German U-boat during World War II off the coast of North Carolina, and now rests under 55 feet of water. The Ashkhabad is one shipwreck that could be protected by the proposed expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the proposal here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a bright orange rockfish
Apr. 4, 2016: Talk about life in technicolor! Rosy rockfish, otherwise known as Pacific red snapper, hang out just above deep-sea reefs, eating shrimp, small fish and even octopuses. These fish live too deep in the ocean for red light to reach -- so while they look bright and colorful to us, to their predators they're a shadowy gray. Though commercial and recreational fishing have dramatically reduced the population of rockfish, rosy rockfish taking up residence in national marine sanctuaries like this individual in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary live in protected habitats that give them an opportunity to recover. (Photo: Matt Vieta/BAUE)
photo of an octopus
Apr. 3, 2016: How do octopuses explore the world? With suction cups! The giant Pacific octopus -- like this one spotted on Rittenburg Bank in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- has more than 2,000 suction cups on its eight arms, enabling it to taste, smell, and grip the world around it. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a fish
Apr. 2, 2016: What better place to dive than the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Tiered like a terrestrial rainforest with a canopy and several layers below, the kelp forests of the eastern Pacific coast support a dazzling array of life. Learn more about these complex ecosystems here. (Photo: Pete Naylor/REEF) ‪‬
photo of a fish
Apr. 1, 2016: The ocean is alive with sound, and this yellowhead jawfish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary looks ready to conduct its orchestra. Yellowhead jawfish create burrows in the ocean floor and hover vertically in the opening. When danger comes, though, they duck into their burrow tail first! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a diver and shipwreck
Mar. 31, 2016: Dive in and explore the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! The Joseph S. Fay, pictured here, hit the rocks and sank at 40 Mile Point during a strong gale on October 19, 1905. Now, its lower hull -- still containing a load of iron ore -- sits in shallow water not far from shore, while a large portion of its starboard side is located on the beach nearby. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a manatee
Mar. 30, 2016: It's manatee appreciation day! Manatees like those in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary can munch as much as 150 pounds of seagrass per day. These gentle, slow-moving animals are at risk from boat strikes, but conservation efforts are helping them: over the last 25 years, the manatee population in Florida has increased 500%! (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS)
photo of baby sea turtles
Mar. 29, 2016: "Ahem, excuse us, but could you point us in the direction of the ocean?" After hatching, baby green sea turtles in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument hit the water, swimming out to sea to live on their own for several years until they return to nearshore foraging grounds. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of a drawing of an octopus eating a shrimp
Mar. 28, 2016: Look out, little shrimp! Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary co-hosts an annual student art contest. This beautiful squid by Keegan Gilmore, a 12th grader from Massachusetts, was a winning entry in the 2014 Marine Art Contest! Learn how you can enter the 2016 contest here. (Artwork courtesy of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary) #YouthArtMonth
photo of a starfish
Mar. 27, 2016: Find a comfy spot this weekend and kick back like this sea star hanging out on a sponge in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a drawing
Mar. 26, 2016: Today we celebrate Women's History Month by celebrating the generations of women who have contributed to and continue to contribute to incredible advancements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Many accomplished woman scientists have participated in the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, which provides support for master’s and doctoral studies in disciplines involving ocean and coastal areas. While she was a Foster Scholar, Andrea Quattrini, PhD (pictured on the left here) studied the genetic connectivity of deepwater gorgonians in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and beyond. Learn more about the Nancy Foster Scholarship and these amazing students' accomplishments -- and how you can apply! (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a drawing
Mar. 25, 2016: Pick up your brushes, pencils and paper - it’s Youth Art Month! Through art, we can explore our environment and all the species in it. Each year, the NOAA Marine Debris Program holds an art contest for K-8 students to help raise awareness about marine debris, one of the most significant problems our ocean faces today. This drawing by Danah L., a 5th-grader from Hawai'i, is one of the winners! Check out the others here. Congratulations to all of the contest winners! (Courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Program)
photo of a spotted crab
Mar. 24, 2016: I spy with my little eye... a red-spotted guard crab! This little crab was spotted protecting its home and food source, cauliflower coral, in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. This national marine sanctuary protects an extensive coral reef system, and is the only true tropical reef in the National Marine Sanctuary System -- and guard crabs like these help protect corals too! In exchange for shelter and food, the crabs ward off predators to the corals like snails and sea stars. You wouldn't want to mess around with those big pincers. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of the crew of USS conestoga
Mar. 23, 2016: 95-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY SOLVED: On March 25, 1921, the USS Conestoga left Mare Island, California bound for American Samoa. The ship and its 56 crew members were never heard from again, and for nearly a century, what happened and where the ship and its crew came to a rest remained a mystery. But now, with the discovery of a shipwrecked fleet tug in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, we've solved this mystery: the Conestoga sank just three miles off Southeast Farallon Island within a day of leaving port. Learn more about what happened to this historic ship and its brave crew. (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)
photo of ocean and cliffs
Mar. 22, 2016:It's World Water Day! Whether you live on the coast or far inland, water connects us all to the ocean. Because creeks, rivers, and bays all eventually drain into the ocean, your activities directly affect the health of the ocean and its inhabitants. By reducing the amount of pollution you produce, you help keep the ocean healthy. What are you doing to help the ocean today? (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
photo of a kelp forest
Mar. 21, 2016: Today is the International Day of Forests -- and did you know that the ocean has forests too? Kelp forests, like those of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, support an amazing variety of marine life in shallow ocean environments. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of sea stars clingling on a rock
Mar. 20, 2016: Ochre sea stars, like those found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, have been identified as a keystone species in intertidal environments. With their insatiable appetites, these sea stars help to limit the range of mussel and mollusk species. Removing only a few of these sea stars can have tremendous impacts on the health of intertidal environments -- which is why scientists have been closely monitoring the effects of a wasting disease that has been afflicting sea stars in recent years. Learn more here. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a pelican
Mar. 19, 2016: Take a mental vacation in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with this brown pelican! In the early 1970, brown pelicans were highly endangered, but halting the use of DDT and other pesticides has led to their recovery. In Florida Keys and other sanctuaries, they can be spotted plunging into the water and surfacing with fish in their bills. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a close up of nudibranch gills
Mar. 18, 2016: These aren't plants -- they're gills! NOAA diver Greg McFall captured this close-up of a nudibranch's gills in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Nudibranchs are soft-bodied mollusks are sometimes known as sea slugs. "Nudibranch" means "naked gills" -- these mollusks carry their gills on their backs! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a green sea turtle
Mar. 17, 2016: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Celebrate with some mighty green sea creatures like this green sea turtle. The most common sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, green sea turtles feed on other greenery -- that is, marine plants that grow in shallow coastal waters. While Hawai'i's green sea turtle population has increased in recent years, they are still threatened by things like entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris. You can help these gentle creatures by keeping trash out of the ocean! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)
photo of a whale
Mar. 16, 2016: Whale watching season approaches in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Located off the coast of Cape Cod, this marine sanctuary is one of the world's premiere whale watching locations. Between late spring and early fall, humpback whales and other marine species flock to the sanctuary to feed. Will you be visiting this year? (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of thunderbay shipwreck alley
Mar. 15, 2016: Located in northwestern Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. The area is nicknamed "Shipwreck Alley" for the unpredictable weather and rocky shoals that have claimed more than 200 ships over the centuries -- so lighthouses have played an integral role in Thunder Bay history. Look closely here and you can see the "new" Presque Isle lighthouse peeking out over the trees. This lighthouse was built in 1870 and is still in operation, though it has been automated since 1970. Now, the lighthouse grounds and 1870's keeper's house are open to the public and the tower is open for climbing during the summer months. Learn more here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of sea anemone
Mar. 14, 2016: Happy Pi Day! And like pie, many sea anemones like this gorgeous deep-sea individual found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary exhibit what's known as radial symmetry. As they grow, their body plan develops outward from a central axis so that they have no "left" or "right" side. Many slow-moving or stationary organisms exhibit this kind of symmetry. Can you think of any other radially symmetric marine species? (Photo: NOAA)
photo of sea star
Mar. 13, 2016: On March 5th, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer dove with an ROV on an unnamed seamount never before surveyed in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team is currently working to determine the approximate age of the formation using samples collected on the dive, and to describe the intricate communities of corals and sponges they encountered. This sea star is just one of the animals the team found inhabiting this deep sea environment! (Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016) ‪‬
photo of ppeople diving
Mar. 12, 2016: Dive in to Swains Island in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! The waters surrounding this atoll are a hotspot for corals and fish. Because of its large fish biomass, large schools of predators such as barracudas, jacks and snappers swim through the reef. Sharks and schools of humphead wrasse are frequently seen in Swains’ nearshore waters, and dogtooth tuna are more common here than anywhere else in American Samoa. (Photo: Shannon Donato) ‪‬
photo of a whale with its mouth open
Mar. 11, 2016: From spring to fall, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an important feeding ground for humpback whales. See the hair-like structures inside the whale's mouth? These are called baleen plates, and are what humpbacks use to strain food from the water when they eat! Baleen plates are made out of the same substance as human hair -- keratin. Can you imagine sifting all of your food through these massive structures? (Photo: Jeremy Winn)
photo of a white octopod
Mar. 10, 2016: Everyone is talking about Casper the friendly octopod -- a potential new species of octopod discovered during the first Okeanos dive in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument last week! The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team found this friendly looking octopod at a depth of more than 2.5 miles on the northeast side of Necker Island, its pale and ghostly figure resembling the cartoon ghost Casper in the deep. Unlike most described species of octopods, this one is equipped with only a single row of suckers down each arm, in contrast to the two rows most octopods have. Even more intriguing is that most deep sea octopods possess fins that help them navigate in the depths, but it seems that this one does not! Learn more about this potential new species here. (Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)
illustration of battle of hampton roads
Mar. 9, 2016: On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor entered into one of the most important naval battles in American history: the Battle of Hampton Roads. This battle represented the first U.S. battle in which two ironclad ships went head to head -- and while the battle was a draw, it made abundantly clear that the era of wooden warships was coming to a close. Today, the resting place of the USS Monitor is protected by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! Visitors to the area can view artifacts recovered from the ship and a full scale replica of the Monitor's turret at The Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. (Image: Library of Congress) ‪‬
photo of a puffin
Mar. 8, 2016: Say hello to the tufted puffin! These birds spend most of their lives bobbing along great distances from land in the North Pacific Ocean. They overwinter at sea -- this one was spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary -- and each spring return to the colony where they were born to mate. (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a crown of thorns sea star
Mar. 7, 2016: Just another Monday morning in the office! In recent years, the crown-of-thorns starfish, or alamea, population has exploded in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. These starfish eat stony corals that form the essential foundation of coral reefs, and as their population skyrockets, the reef suffers. But the sanctuary, in collaboration with the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, has been working to remove them! Here, NOAA diver Dr. Kelly Gleason injects ox bile into the central disk of a crown-of-thorns starfish. This natural substance kills the animal but does no harm to the reef. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a sea urchin
Mar. 6, 2016: 70 miles off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, three underwater gardens emerge from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. These small underwater mountains form Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and are covered by coral, sponges, and algae that provide habitat for a variety of tropical wildlife -- including long-spined sea urchins! Learn more about the sanctuary at flowergarden.noaa.gov. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of monk seals on a beach
Mar. 5, 2016: Soaking in the rays: Though they spend two-thirds of their time at sea, Hawaiian monk seals can be found hanging out on the beach when they need a good rest or when rearing their pups. These critically endangered seals find refuge in the islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument -- where they, too, seem to enjoy a lazy Saturday afternoon! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of kids and an adult in a kayak
Mar. 4, 2016: What better way to spend your weekend than with a visit to one of your national marine sanctuaries? Learn more about the many things to do when you visit sanctuaries -- like kayaking in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) Every Kid in a Park
photo of elephant seals
Mar. 3, 2016: What are these northern elephant seals so excited about? It's #WorldWildlifeDay! Today, we celebrate with you by sharing information on one of the most bodacious species found in many West Coast sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Northern elephant seals were once hunted for their blubber, and were thought to be extinct until a small colony was found in the early 20th century. Since then, thanks to conservation efforts, northern elephant seal populations along the California coast have made an amazing recovery. Now, we continue to work with the public to protect this species and others protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Interested in wildlife watching when you visit sanctuaries? Make sure to give these seals -- and all other animals! -- plenty of space so they can thrive. The future of the world’s wildlife is truly in our hands. Learn more about how you can help. (Photo: Mike Baird/NOAA)
photo of an orca tail
Mar. 2, 2016: Southern resident orcas, like those found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, form tight-knit matrilineal groups and are known for acrobatic breaching, spyhopping, and slapping the surface with their flukes or flippers. Staff from the sanctuary and NOAA Fisheries Service are working together to better understand this endangered species and its critical habitat. Learn more about orcas here. (Photo: Candice Emmons/NOAA)
photo of a jelly fish
Mar. 1, 2016: Look up while you're diving in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and you just might spot a lovely sea nettle in the sunlight! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a snail up close
Feb. 29, 2016: Sea snails, like this red turban snail in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, develop their shells in layers. For many species, these layers are predominantly composed of calcium carbonate, which provides the shelled critters a tough, protective coating. However, the changes in our climate have caused a dramatic shift in ocean chemistry. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some of which is absorbed by the ocean. With more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolving into our oceans, the ocean is becoming less basic. This ocean acidification can cause calcium carbonate shells to dissolve, threatening a number of shelled marine organisms like the red turban snail. We're working to understand the effects of ocean acidification in sanctuaries so we can better protect these animals and the ecosystems that depend on them. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA) ‪‬
ilustration of battle of civil war ships
Feb. 28, 2016: In a heated battle in the midst of the Civil War, the Union ship USS Hatteras sank 20 miles off Galveston, Texas. Two unidentified African-American crew members lost their lives last night -- and we need your help identifying those heroic men! Learn how you can help. (Image: Tom Freeman, courtesy of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation) ‪‬ ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
photo of a boy with binoculars looking out into the ocean
Feb. 27, 2016: See any whales out there? Each year, volunteers at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary participate in the Sanctuary Ocean Count, a citizen science project to monitor humpback whales in sanctuary waters. Today is the second count of the year -- how many whales do you think volunteers will spot? Learn more and register for the March 26th count here. (Photo: Alicia Piavis) ‪‬
photo of person on seaweed
Feb. 26, 2016: That's a lot of seaweed! Nancy Foster Scholar Lindsay Marks is studying invasive Sargassum horneri in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This non-native alga was first spotted in the sanctuary in fall 2009 and has the potential to outcompete native kelp and impact local ecosystems. Lindsay is conducting dive surveys and experiments to learn how S. horneri may be outcompeting native species and whether removal will help sanctuary managers control its spread. Learn more about her work and this invasive species, here. (Photo: Sam Ginther)
photo of lionfish
Feb. 25, 2016: With voracious appetites and no natural predators in the Atlantic, invasive lionfish are seriously threatening coral reef biodiversity and health in several national marine sanctuaries. So researchers in sanctuaries like Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are hard at work removing and studying these ravenous fish! Learn more about lionfish, how we're combating the invasion, and how you can help. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of zebra mussels
Feb. 24, 2016: In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, invasive quagga and zebra mussels pose a threat to both shipwrecks and the local ecosystem. Mussel colonization can deteriorate archaeological resources like shipwrecks; when they coat these resources, too, it can be harder for archaeologists to document wrecks. Because these mussels are consumptive filter feeders -- each mussel can filter a liter of water per day! -- they also deplete the food supply for native species in the Great Lakes. Learn more about these invasive species here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of orange coral
Feb. 23, 2016: Invasive species week continues! Hailing from the Indo-Pacific, orange cup coral has established itself throughout the tropical western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, including in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Settling on hard surface areas, this invasive coral displaces native corals and sponges. Learn more at here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a lionfish
Feb. 22, 2016: It's National Invasive Species Awareness Week! Indo-Pacific lionfish have invaded Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and several other national marine sanctuaries, where they pose threats to both people and marine life due to their venomous spines and voracious appetites. In one year, 1,000 lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish! And with no known predators in the Atlantic, this invasive species can cause a serious hit to reef biodiversity and health. Learn more about the lionfish invasion and how we're combating it here. (Photo: Marsha Skoczek/NOAA)
photo of a sunset
Feb. 21, 2016: Sit back and enjoy a Sunday sunset in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Located north of Cape Cod, this beautiful sanctuary is a world-class whale watching destination and is home to high concentrations of economically important fish species. (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a moray eel
Feb. 20, 2016: Those aren't dragon claws -- they're gooseneck barnacles! These filter feeders are found in the rocky tide pools of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Their shells are made up of multiple white plates that help protect them from predation and desiccation. (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a moray eel
Feb. 19, 2016: Who captures fish raw with two sets of jaws? That's a moray! This spotted moray eel was spotted by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent G.P. Schmahl. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of marine algae
Feb. 18, 2016: Many species of Hawaiian marine algae, or limu, are found in shallow water. But recently, researchers in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae from Hawaiʻi, all of which were found between 200-400 feet, depths not typically known for marine algae. The species pictured here is named Umbraulva kuaweuweu, referring to the "grass of Kū," the Hawaiian god of prosperity and the area north of Maui. It was photographed by a diver at 277 feet deep off Lisianski Island. Learn more here. (Photo: Brian Hauk/NOAA)
photo of whale and calf
Feb. 17, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! This little whale and its mother are two of only a few hundred North Atlantic right whales alive today. From December through March, these highly endangered whales bear their young in the coastal waters of Georgia and northern Florida, near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. You can learn more about North Atlantic right whales here. (Photo: GA DNR)
photo of coral
Feb. 16, 2016: What's wrong with this picture? These National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa corals may be beautiful, but they're white because they're stressed and have bleached. When we burn energy sources like gasoline and coal, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide acts like a heat-trapping blanket, keeping heat from the sun close to the planet and warming the atmosphere and the ocean. Corals are sensitive to temperature: if the water gets too warm, like it did in American Samoa last year, they expel the colorful algae that they need to survive. But there are things we can do: by working with your community to curb your fossil fuel consumption and reduce other coral stressors, like pollution, you can help protect vibrant coral reefs! Learn more here. (Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)
photo of captain of uss monitor
Feb. 15, 2016: Happy Presidents Day! On the early morning of July 9, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln visited the USS Monitor, the United States' first ironclad warship. Union photographer James F. Gibson was scheduled to visit the same day, but sadly arrived after President Lincoln had already left! This photo, one of only eight known photos taken of the Monitor, depicts Captain William Jeffers later that day. (Photo: The Library of Congress) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
photo of turtle and seal cuddling
Feb. 14, 2016: Cuddle up to someone you love today like this Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of whale and calf
Feb. 13, 2016: 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) ‪‬
photo of otters
Feb. 12, 2016: It's Friday! Help us out by captioning this photo of a Steller sea lion. Steller sea lions live in several national marine sanctuaries, including in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which protects one of the southernmost populations in the United States. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of otters
Feb. 11, 2016: BLUE MEETS GREEN: The 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is underway, and you otter believe it's right by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This legendary golf tournament in Monterey, California takes place on the shores of one of our nation's amazing marine sanctuaries. The sanctuary stretches along the California coast from San Francisco to Cambria, and is home to hundreds of species of marine life, including sea otters. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of an albatross and chick
Feb. 10, 2016: Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, has a new chick! This weekend Kūkuni (Hawaiian for "messenger") hatched under the watchful eyes of Wisdom's mate, pictured here. Laysan albatrosses travel thousands of miles each year, returning to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument each year to lay their eggs. Facing threats on their journeys like marine debris, habitat degredation and invasive species, these amazing persevering birds are indicators of the health of our ocean. Kūkuni truly is a messenger to remind us all to care for our ocean! (Photo: Kiah Walker/USFWS)
photo of a colorful anemone
Feb. 9, 2016: Watch out, fishes! This bright sea anemone is known as a fish-eating anemone, and for good reason. Found in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, its large, sturdy tentacles are capable of bringing down relatively large animals such as shrimps and small fishes. (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a shipwreck
Feb. 8, 2016:It's ‪#‎MonitorMonday‬! We're considering expanding Monitor National Marine Sanctuary to protect a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks that currently have little or no legal protection. Among these shipwrecks are many from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, including the wreck of U-701. Sunk on July 7, 1942 by a U.S. Army Air Force Hudson, this U-boat sits in approximately 110 feet of water off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Learn more about the proposed expansion and how you can comment here. (Photo: Stephen Sellers/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a spikey sea cucumber
Feb. 7, 2016: Don't let the spikes fool you! While their cousins the sea urchins are covered with long, hard spines, sea cucumbers like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are actually covered with soft, leathery skin. Learn more about sea cucumbers here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a bird flying
Feb. 6, 2016: Soar into the weekend like this turkey vulture scanning the waves of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of small yellow fish
Feb. 5, 2016: Can you find the bluehead wrasses in this photo of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary reef? Here's a hint: juvenile bluehead wrasses aren't actually blue! (Photo: Bill Precht/NOAA)
photo of a flounder
Feb. 4, 2016: Did you know that different species of flounder are either "right-handed" or "left-handed"? As a juvenile flounder grows up, one of its eyes migrates to the other side of its head. Gulf flounder like this one photographed in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary are left-handed, meaning their eyes are both on the left side of their bodies. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‬
photo of a whale and a calf
Feb. 3, 2016: Many marine animals use sound to communicate with one another, and many of these sounds are similar in tone or frequency to noise produced by underwater human activities. A noisier ocean may mean that animals have more trouble communicating than they used to: for endangered right whales calling in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, for example, as much as 70% of the opportunities to communicate with one another have been lost. Researchers in national marine sanctuaries are now hard at work studying ocean noise conditions: as we learn more, we can better develop ways to manage noise and help these animals! Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA) ‬
photo of an egret
Feb. 2, 2016: It's World Wetlands Day! Many national marine sanctuary residents -- like snowy egrets in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary -- depend on healthy wetlands and estuaries. (Photo: Nancy Diersing/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of krill
Feb. 1, 2016: They may be tiny, but krill are mighty! Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that are found throughout national marine sanctuaries, including in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where this photo was taken. These little critters are an important food source for fish, seabirds, and whales alike: during feeding season, blue whales eat two to four TONS of krill each day! (Photo: Shannon Lyday/NOAA) ‬‬
photo of intense waves
Jan. 31, 2016: Offshore storms can bring big waves to the shores of national marine sanctuaries! A few weeks ago, some serious surf hit the beaches of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪‬‬
illustration of the monitor
Jan. 30, 2016: More than 150 years ago, the USS Monitor made history during the battle of Hampton Roads. And 41 years ago today, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was designated to protect the resting time of this historic warship. Happy anniversary to Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! (Image: Library of Congress) ‪‬
photo of shipwreck florida's capstan
Jan. 29, 2016: One humpback whale, two humpback whales...Each year, volunteers in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary join in the Sanctuary Ocean Count to monitor humpback whales in sanctuary waters. The first count of the year is tomorrow -- how many whales do you think volunteers will spot? Learn more about the Count and how you can get involved here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of shipwreck florida's capstan
Jan. 28, 2016: During a dense fog on May 21, 1897, the package freighter Florida collided with the steamer George W. Roby in Lake Huron. Nearly cut in half by the collision, the Florida sank in deep water, where it still sits upright, with artifacts like its capstan (pictured here) still preserved by the lake's cold water. This and other historic shipwrecks are protected by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary: nearly 200 vessels have been sunk by storms and collisions in and around Thunder Bay. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) #tbt
photo of a killer whale breaching
Jan. 27, 2016: Look out below! Orcas are frequent visitors to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where they are known to breach acrobatically like this one. Did you know that a male orca's dorsal fin can reach up to 6 feet in length, making it the longest dorsal fin of any whale? You can learn more about these amazing creatures here. (Photo: NWFSC) ‪‬‬
photo of a sunset over the water
Jan. 26, 2016: Take a deep breath and enjoy the sunrise from San Miguel Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of man cleaning up a beach
Jan. 25, 2016: This year, the NOAA Marine Debris program celebrates its 10th anniversary. We're grateful to the program for helping us remove and prevent marine debris both inside sanctuaries and outside of them! You can help keep the ocean healthy by recycling, joining a beach cleanup like the one pictured here in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and more. Find out what you can do! (Photo: Todd Hitchins/NOAA) #MarineDebris10YR‬
photo of humpback whale tail out of water
Jan. 24, 2016: Humpback whales like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are often home to barnacles. Attaching to a whale gives barnacles a free ride through waters rife with plankton -- a tasty place to be if you're a barnacle! (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪‬
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Jan. 23, 2016: Pretty in pink! Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa gets its name from coralline algae that dominates its fringing reef, giving the reef a pink hue. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‪‬
photo ofa diver jumping into the water
Jan. 22, 2016: Ready to jump in? In December Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary deployed two hydrophones that will help researchers gather acoustic information about the sanctuary. This NOAA diver helped affix the hydrophone to its buoy. Researchers planned to leave the hydrophones in the water for a month, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for info about what they heard when they retrieved them! (Photo: Alison Scott/NOAA)
photo of an rov under water
Jan. 21, 2016: Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are important research tools in sanctuaries: they allow researchers to get up close to underwater resources like shipwrecks. Here, an ROV investigates the boiler and condenser of the wooden steam barge Montana, which sank in 1914 in what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the Montana here. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a whale under water
Jan. 20, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! Lean back and take a break like this humpback whale swimming in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. You can learn more about the whales' annual return to the sanctuary here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #14682)
photo of an otter
Jan. 19, 2016: In the early 1900s, sea otters were extinct from the Washington State coastline. But after a few dozen were reintroduced in 1969 and 1970, sea otters in Washington have made an enormous comeback: the existing population now has more than 1,000 otters! In addition to being absolutely adorable, these voracious eaters are a critical keystone species in places like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA) ‪
photo of a nabs divers
Jan. 18, 2016: Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we would like to express our appreciation for NABS - The National Association of Black Scuba Divers. NABS members volunteer their time throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System, and we're so grateful for the work that they do. Here, NABS members map the City of Washington shipwreck in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the organization here. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA) #DayOfService
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 17, 2016: Happy 23rd anniversary to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Located in the Gulf of Mexico, this sanctuary is home to the northernmost coral reefs of the continental United States, and to manta rays with "wingspans" up to 29 feet and weighing up to 3000 lbs. Learn more about mantas here. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) ‬
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 16, 2016: Happy 35th anniversary to Gray's Reef and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries! The live-bottom reef of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provides an important habitat for hundreds of fish species, including the scalloped hammerhead (top photo), while the nutrient-rich waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provide critical sustenance for migrating white sharks (bottom photo). Happy birthday to these amazing places! (Top photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA; bottom photo: Steven K. Webster/Monterey Bay Aquarium) ‪‬
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 15, 2016: Hey! What're you looking at? Help us out by captioning this photo of a Hawaiian black grouper in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck out of the water in mallows bay and a photo of a diver and a shipwreck in the great lakes
Jan. 14, 2016: COMMENT DEADLINE APPROACHES: Last October we announced that for the first time since 2000, we're considering new sanctuaries for designation. In Wisconsin (bottom photo), an 875-square mile area of Lake Michigan that contains 39 known shipwrecks was identified for possible designation. The second site (top photo), Mallows Bay in Maryland, is a 14-square mile area of the Potomac River that contains nearly 200 wrecks, including the remains of the largest World War I "Ghost Fleet." The comment period for these sites closes tomorrow, January 15th, and we want to know what you think! Learn more about the Mallows Bay site and how to comment here and the Wisconsin site here. (Top photo: Jim D'Intino; bottom photo: Wisconsin Historical Society)
photo of a whale tail out of water
Jan. 13, 2016: Humpback whales have one of the farthest migrations of any mammal -- the longest recorded humpback migration was 5,160 miles! Some South Pacific humpback whales migrate to National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, where they mate and calve their young. Their distinctive tail patterns make it possible for sanctuary researchers to track the population. (Photo: NOAA)
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Jan. 12, 2016: Aw, now don't be shy! Nassau groupers like this one live in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, where they are known to rest on the seafloor and blend in with their surroundings. (Photo: Alicia Farrer)
photo of purple sea urchin
Jan. 11, 2016: In September, NOAA divers undertook the first diving expedition aboard the R/V Fulmar in the newly expanded Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. They found quite a few species living there, including these purple sea urchins. Usually purple urchins spend their time in cracks and crevices, but these had climbed up and were feeding on denuded stipes of understory kelp. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo quadrant around coral
Jan. 10, 2016: How do scientists study ocean habitats in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary? One way is a with a photo quadrat, which can be used to measure things like abundance or species diversity. By taking a number of square-meter photos and comparing the abundance of species within them, researchers can estimate the percent cover of specific species or groups. That, in turn, can indicate the health of the area they're studying! (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) ‪‬‬
photo of fish and sharks swimming around the dixie arrow shipwreck
Jan. 9, 2016: Conservation win! Since 1991, the number of manatees in Florida -- including in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary -- has grown from 1,200 to more than 6,300. Learn more here. (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS) ‪‬
photo of fish and sharks swimming around the dixie arrow shipwreck
Jan. 8, 2016: BIG NEWS: Forty years ago, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary became the first national marine sanctuary to preserve and protect one of our country's most significant cultural resources -- the USS Monitor. Now, following years of scientific and archaeological assessment, and in coordination with the public, we are proposing an expansion of sanctuary boundaries to include a collection of shipwrecks that includes many from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, like the Dixie Arrow, pictured here. With preservation, these resources offer historians, maritime enthusiasts, recreational divers, fishermen, beachgoers and outdoor adventure seekers the ability to experience this unique region and celebrate our nation's maritime heritage.
illustration of arctic whaling ships stranded in ice
Jan. 7, 2016: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! On May 31, 1887, the three-masted schooner Lucinda Van Valkenburg was heading toward Chicago on Lake Huron carrying a load of coal. About 2 miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island, it was struck by the iron propeller Lehigh. The crew were saved by the Lehigh, but the masts of the sunken Van Valkenburg continued to present a dangerous obstruction to other vessels traveling on Lake Huron. Now, visitors to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary can see the wreck where it rests under 60 feet of water. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) #tbt
photo of diver and a shipwreck
Jan. 6, 2016: In September 1871, 33 whaling ships where trapped by pack ice close to the Alaskan Arctic shore. Crushed by the ice, the ships were destroyed in a matter of weeks, leaving more than 1,200 whalers stranded until they could be rescued. Luckily, no one died in the incident, but the disaster is cited as one of the causes of the demise of commercial whaling in the United States. This fall, a team of archaeologists from our Maritime Heritage Program -- in partnership with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, NOAA Charts, and the Alaska Region of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management -- scoured the Alaskan coastline for traces of the ships, and found the battered hulls of two 1800s whaling ships. Learn more here. (Image: Harper's Weekly/Robert Schwemmer Maritime Library)
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Jan. 5, 2016: Happy National Bird Day! Over 14 million seabirds representing 22 species -- including the red-footed booby, pictured here -- breed and nest on the islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The isolation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, their lack of predators, and the protection offered by the monument makes the area one of the safest places for many of these vulnerable seabirds. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of bright colored coral that looks like a maze
Jan. 4, 2016: This isn't a complex maze -- it's a coral! This symmetrical brain coral was photographed by NOAA Diver Emma Hickerson in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
photo of bright colored coral and fish
Jan. 3, 2016: Would you believe these colors occur more than 100 feet below the ocean surface? Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary protects an undersea granite and rocky reef located 23 miles off the coast of California. The annual upwelling of nutrient-rich deep ocean water in this area supports a dazzling array of marine life. What can you spot here? (Photo: Robert Lee/BAUE)
photo of underwater and a town above water
Jan. 2, 2016: Thanks to unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals, the Thunder Bay region in Lake Huron is one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes. Lighthouses have played an integral role in the area's history, serving as navigational aids to commercial and recreational vessels passing through the region. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840 and operated until 1870, when it was replaced by the "new" one in 1870. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬ Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
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Jan. 1, 2016: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Even this elephant seal is celebrating today. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
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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!

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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!

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Start your weekend off right with a tour of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!

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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!

2 turtle being cleaned by yellow fish

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.

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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!

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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.

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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.

photo of a beach with people looking at the sunset with the words love written in sand

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?

photo of cliffs and beach of olympic coast national marine sanctuary

Dive into Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and experience the underwater treasures of this amazing marine protected area!

photo of 2 butterfly fish swimming in deep reefs

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!

photo of 2 butterfly fish swimming in deep reefs

Prognathodes basabei is a newly-described species of butterflyfish found in the deep reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Check out our video to catch a glimpse of this new fish! Learn more here.

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What's a sea nettle? Learn about these Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary dwellers in our video!

photo of a diver and a buoy

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.

photo of a diver and a buoy

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!

photo of a propeller from a shipwreck

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!

photo of a moray eel

Recently, scientists from Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary dove into the sanctuary to conduct a variety of research activities. Check out some of what they saw in our video and on their site.

photo of diver holding up a sign

"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!

photo of diver holding up a sign

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)

photo of man playing guitar

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.

photo of man playing guitar

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.

photo of man playing guitar

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!

photo of woman fishing

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!

photo of coral and fish

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?

photo of a moray eel

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

photo of a woman holding up a picture of a family member who perished on the USS Conestoga

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.

photo of fish and coral

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

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The National Marine Sanctuary System is home to a magnificent array of birds. Learn about them in our video! ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬

photo of a whale and sound waves

How do scientists measure sound in national marine sanctuaries? Check out our video about a new hydrophone in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary to find out! And learn more about noise in sanctuaries here. ‪#‎EarthIsBlue.

photo of coral in american samoa

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.‬

photo of bird sitting on marine debris

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.‬

photo of dolphins

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.

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What are the best places in the nation to see marine life? According to the USA TODAY 10Best Reader's Choice Contest, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Check out our video to find out what makes these places so phenomenal. ‪‬

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What's a turtle cleaning station? Check it out in our video and learn more here.

photo of coral

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

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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.)

photo of a diver underwater

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. ‪

photo of a mola mola

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?

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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. ‪‬‬‬

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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!‬‬

photo of a humpbackwhale and calf

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) ‪‬‬

photo of a fishermen teaching a class of kids

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! ‬

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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]) ‪‬

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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

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What's the difference between seals and sea lions? Find out in our video! ‪‬

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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.

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Happy new year from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's green sea turtles!

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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.

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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! ‪

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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! ‪

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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

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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! 

View the Earth is Blue photo and video archive