earth is blue

Join us as we explore America's national marine sanctuaries and share your own images of our national marine sanctuaries using the hashtag .

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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)

"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 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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue‬
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue‬
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) #EarthIsBlue‬
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) #EarthIsBlue‬
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) #EarthIsBlue
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) ‪#‎EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue(Photo: NOAA) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) #EarthIsBlue

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) ‪‬
photo of pink coral
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) ‪‬
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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)
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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) ‪‬‬
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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) ‪‬
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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.
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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
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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)
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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.
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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)
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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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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)

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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.

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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.

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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!

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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!

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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? ‪#‎EarthIsBlue‬.

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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

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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.

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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

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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.

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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.‬

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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.‬

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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.

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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.)

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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. ‪‬

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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!‬‬

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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) ‪‬‬

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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! 

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Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary helps regional schools participate in the MATE ROV Competition. Check out our video to learn how building submersibles helps students get a leg up on the competition for complex jobs in marine industries from science and exploration to search and recovery -- plus, it's pretty fun! ‪‬

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On October 1, 1957, USNS Mission San Miguel departed Apra Harbor, Guam, bound for Seattle, Washington. A week later on October 8th, the ship ran aground on Maro Reef in what is now Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument while running at full speed and carrying only ballast. The U.S. Navy safely evacuated the 42-member crew. This August, a team of NOAA scientists and research partners aboard National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Ship Hiʻialakai discovered Mission San Miguel during a multidisciplinary expedition to the monument. At 523 feet in length, Mission San Miguel is the largest ship reported lost in the monument. ‪‬ Naval History & Heritage Command

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Sanctuary volunteer Steve Kroll has been diving on wrecks like the Joseph S. Fay inThunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary since he was young. Now, the Joseph S. Fay is one of 32 wrecks in the sanctuary to have a seasonal mooring buoy that allows boaters to easily locate the wreck -- plus, now those boaters don't have to drop anchor and risk damaging the wrecks. With the buoy, paddlers, divers, and snorkelers alike can check out the ship, which wrecked in 1905 during a strong gale in Lake Huron! Learn moreabout the Joseph S. Fay and other Thunder Bay wrecks.

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Happy Halloween! You'll never guess what the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research found near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary... ‪

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Green sea turtles like this one filmed by Trystan Snodgrass in La Jolla are highly migratory. They range throughout the Pacific Ocean and are found in many national marine sanctuaries, including Channel Islands! Do you have footage or photos that you've taken in a national marine sanctuary? Share it with us for a chance to appear as part of by emailing sanctuaries@noaa.gov! But remember to always give marine animals plenty of space: a great photo is NEVER worth harassing wildlife. If an animal is rapidly changing direction, swimming erratically, or trying to get away, cautiously move away from it and let it be.

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As National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says, "No matter what you see out your living room window or off of your back porch, you are first and foremost a citizen of the planet – and a citizen of an ocean planet." With that in mind, a year ago today we launched to bring you incredible images and videos of America’s underwater treasures. Watch our video to learn why we’ve been sharing these images and how you can help us keep this blue planet vibrant!

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A common misconception about white sharks is that they're mindless killing machines. Not so! Researchers in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are finding that these predators have very specific feeding strategies and are cautious about what they'll approach. Check out our video to learn more! ‪‬ ‪#‎Sharktober‬‬

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Sometimes people ask whether national marine sanctuaries are closed to the public. That couldn't be further from the truth! We welcome visitors, and there's so much to do in your sanctuaries. Check out our video for some ideas!‬

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

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Sea otters aren't just adorable animals with more fur per square inch than any other mammal. They're also an important keystone species, meaning their presence is central to the health of their environment. Researchers have recently been investigating how sea otter reintroduction has affected the ecosystem in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- check out our video to learn more! #SeaOtterAwarenessWeek

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In recent years, Indo-Pacific lionfish have invaded reefs throughout the southeastern United States, the Caribbean Sea, and much of the Gulf of Mexico, including in Gray's Reef, Florida Keys, and Flower Garden Banks national marine sanctuaries. With enormous appetites and no natural predators, these fish are threatening the integrity and health of these precious habitats. But why, exactly, have lionfish been so successful in their new habitats? Hollings Scholar Kelsey Miller worked this summer with Dr. James Morris to find out.

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Rare footage: Grouper eating a lionfish! Lionfish typically have no known natural predators in the Atlantic Ocean. Watch as scientists try to determine what they eat, to see how lionfish eating habits may impact the ecosystem. Next week, tune in to watch the third installment of the lionfish series.

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Have you ever seen an alien invasion? If you look closely underwater, you will. The venomous lionfish are taking over Atlantic coral reefs, out-competing native organisms for food and space. Watch to learn more about research being performed about these invasive fish. Stay tuned next week to learn about what the lionfish are eating in the reefs. Click here to learn more about lionfish.

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ICYMI: This weekend, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research launched the next leg of their Okeanos Explorer expedition -- this time in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Check out our video to learn why the last leg, in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, was so important, and to see some awesome deep sea footage! ‪‬‬

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Did you know that the Hawaiian name for the Hawaiian monk seal is "llio holo I ka uaua," meaning "dog that runs in rough water"? This one basking in the sun in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary doesn't seem to be particularly interested in running today... ‪‬

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Take a trip with us to the wreck of the D.M. Wilson in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! The Wilson was headed for Milwaukee with a load of coal in 1894 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 today, including a large windlass that rests on the bow. ‪‬‬‬‬‬‬‬

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What's one key way that researchers can monitor what's living in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary? Acoustic monitoring! With acoustic receivers, we can get the exact position of tagged animals like leopard sharks, sicklefin lemon sharks, juvenile white sharks, and sevengill sharks, which use the sanctuary as habitat and help maintain the ecosystem. ‬‬‬‬‬‬

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Northern elephant seals spend most of their time at sea, but during breeding and molting seasons they come ashore in places like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. During breeding season, males -- which can weigh more than 4,000 pounds and have a large, elephantine proboscis -- fiercely compete for females. These seals can be great fun to watch, but make sure to give them plenty of space! Although they may look docile lounging on the beach, they can be extremely quick and aggressive. ‪‬‬‬

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"Science can make us smarter," says Hanohano Na'ehu, of Hui o Kuapā - Keawanui Fishpond, "but we believe native intelligence can make science smarter also." That kind of collaboration is one of the many things that make Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary such a special place. ‪‬‬

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Celebrate your Friday with some green sea turtles (Chelonia mydas)! Known as honu in Hawaiian, these sea turtles are found in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Primarily vegetarians, honu chow down on limu (algae) and seagrasses!

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How do researchers study marine mammal and seabird food sources? With a tucker trawl! Using this system of nets that open and close at different depths in the water column, researchers can sample zooplankton and other small marine organisms. A few weeks ago, researchers for ACCESS Partnership did just that in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. ACCESS data have been used to help redirect large ships away from important feeding areas and better understand impacts from El Niño and climate change by tracking important seabird and marine mammal forage species.

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With their recent expansion, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary now cover more than 4500 square miles of ocean off the coast of California -- more than double the area that was initially protected! Check out our video to learn why that's so important. 

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Are you getting excited for Get Into Your Sanctuary days this weekend? We are! Check out all the awesome things you can do when you

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Woah! As of this year, the Hawaiian islands Disentanglement Network has freed 22 whales from 9500 feet of fishing gear in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Watch to see how it's done, and click here to learn more (and to see a baby whale being disentangled!). #30DaysOfOcean

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Each year, an estimated 52 tons of derelict fishing gear and other debris washes up in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, threatening the pristine ecosystem and animals like Hawaiian monk seals and sea turtles. And each year, NOAA works to remove that debris. Check out our video to see how these intrepid divers and researchers freed a sea turtle from a fishing net, and learn more about their mission at the Marine Debris Program Blog. #30DaysOfOcean

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From coral reefs to kelp forests, our ocean is truly amazing. Dive in with us as we kick off ‪‎30 Days of Ocean‬! ‪‬

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How do you test an ROV? In the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's training and #dive tank! With 600,000 gallons of water, it's handy for training everyone from marine archaeologists to ROV pilots.

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Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity. National marine sanctuaries support a wide variety, or diversity, of life, from vibrant coral reefs to towering kelp forests. Watch this video to see more of the collection of marine life found in our sanctuaries.

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Ever wonder what lies beneath the treacherous waters of the Great Lakes? Fire, ice, collisions, and storms have claimed over 200 vessels in and around Thunder Bay. Watch as NOAA divers prepare to film shipwrecks in the newly expanded Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

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National marine sanctuaries play an important role in protecting some of America's most valuable marine ecosystems. They provide safe haven for many endangered species, such as orcas, Hawaiian monk seals, white abalone, and several types of salmon and sea turtles. Watch to learn about the actions sanctuaries are taking to save these endangered animals.

Find out what eight species NOAA considers most at risk of extinction in the near future.

Ever wonder what NOAA researchers do when they head out to sea? Check out our video from the just-completed research trip to Davidson Seamount in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary aboard the NOAA ship Bell M Shimada!

Ocean recreation, in-action! Check out our highlights reel of the experiences awaiting visitors to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and listen to some local surfing legends share their views on what makes the breaks off Santa Cruz county ideal surf spots.

Steller sea lions are one of the 29 species of marine mammals residing in the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Also called the northern sea lion, stellers are the largest species of sea lions, with males weighing up to 2,400lbs! Steller sea lions are named for the George Wilhelm Steller, the German surgeon and naturalist who first described them.

This is Summer, a passionate and determined 7 year old girl with a big heart and a lot of love for the environment. She has always had a special connection to the environment, and enjoys both learning about it and being a part of it. Summer feels very strongly about protecting wildlife and nature, and hopes to inspire others with the positive choices she makes.

Frozen in time, many of the world's best preserved shipwrecks lie in the Great Lakes' cold, fresh water. Steve Kroll, a wreck diver and retired teacher, has been diving the wrecks located in and around the treacherous waters of Thunder Bay, since the 1970s. When NOAA proposed establishing Thunder Bay as a national marine sanctuary in the late 1990's, people like Steve met the idea with strong opposition. As the idea became a reality, however, time would begin to reshape Steve's view of the sanctuary, the shipwrecks it aims to protect, and the communities it brings together. This is Steve's journey of discovery. A personal story about the thrill of the hunt, and one man's evolution from stalwart sanctuary opponent...

What can you find in this forest? Underwater kelp forests, like the ones in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary are home to many animals, such as sea otters. Sea otters have adapted to life almost entirely in the water and spend their time by floating belly-up or feeding around the kelp beds.

What does it take to keep an ecosystem healthy? Reproduction helps. Thousands of adult Nassau Groupers meet every year at the same site around Little Cayman for spawning. National Marine Sanctuaries are working to identify and protect spawning aggregation sites as part of the stewardship to these exceptional places. Visit www.reef.org/groupermoonproject for more information.

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