Come Visit: Bringing the Sanctuary to the Community Through Visitor Centers
When Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary opened its modest visitor center in 1998, a tradition of innovative interpretation began, sharing sanctuary resources, and the science behind them, with visitors and members of the community. Visitation at this center is about to reach 400,000, while visitation at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's Mokupapa Visitor Center reached 500,000 visitors in March 2012.
Other visitor centers include the Olympic Coast Discovery Center, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary Education Center, and the Monterey Bay San Simeon Discovery Center. The Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center, the Florida Keys Eco-Discovery Center, and the newly-opened Monterey Bay Sanctuary Exploration Center and Tauese P.F. Sunia Ocean Center (American Samoa) are the sanctuary system's flagship visitor centers. The sanctuary system also partners with other institutions to reach its audiences, including exhibits at the Mariner's Museum, Santa Barbara Maritime Museum, California Academy of Sciences, Georgia Aquarium, Tennessee Aquarium, the soon-to-be-opened Cordell Bank exhibit at the Oakland Museum of California, and the new Channel Islands Boating Center opening in 2012. Sanctuaries also make extensive use of web-based tools and social media to tell the wonderful underwater stories to local and global communities alike.