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outreach and education
Sanctuaries Provide A "NOAA Storefront" in Communities
hrough shared assets and community partnerships, sanctuaries showcase NOAA's mission. The sanctuary system continues to expand its visitor facilities - the places where the public learns about sanctuaries and the rest of NOAA. These facilities include seven sanctuary visitor centers that reached more than 190,000 visitors in 2009 alone. Sanctuary exhibits in aquariums and museums around the nation reach millions more. Last year also marked the opening of the new Sanctuary Learning Center in Kihei, Maui, at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary.

In addition to facilities, sanctuaries are the places where other NOAA assets and expertise are focused. The West Coast Region benefits from a Twin Otter aircraft, operated by NOAA's Aircraft Operations Center. The aircraft maximizes the ability to service the West Coast national marine sanctuaries for resource protection, scientific surveys and enforcement, and to support other NOAA priorities. In partnership with NOAA's Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary also acquired the 50-foot research vessel Storm, which will provide a platform for archaeological research, remote sensing and mooring buoy deployment. The R/V Storm has been converted to a petroleum-free vessel and uses 100-percent soy biodiesel for engine fuel.

Sanctuaries are supported by a network of dedicated and diverse 
individuals and organizations working to protect our ocean. 
Throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System, thousands 
of volunteers make wide-ranging science and education programs possible, community-based advisory groups provide expertise and input on critical issues, and non-profit partners help 
build support for effective ocean management. Together, these 
pieces form a strong foundation for the protection of our nation's most treasured underwater places.

Heart of the Sanctuary System: Volunteers Make a Difference

volunteersEvery year, thousands of citizens volunteer to serve throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System, helping make many of the sanctuaries' most successful programs a reality. Two such programs that rely heavily on volunteer support are the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps and the Sanctuary Ocean Count. The Naturalist Corps, which conducts education and science activities like public outreach and whale identification at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, received more than 25,000 hours from 135 trained volunteers in 2009. Last year also marked the 14th annual Sanctuary Ocean Count at the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, a project that enlists local residents and tourists to count and observe humpback whales every year. This popular outreach effort continued to grow in 2009 as more than 1,500 volunteers on the islands of Hawaii, Kauai and Oahu donated over 11,000 hours of their time, increasing their appreciation for the ocean while contributing to scientific whale research.

Advisory Council Actions Focus on Ocean Acidification

Hundreds of people around the nation played an integral role in the management of national marine sanctuaries in 2009 through participation in sanctuary advisory councils. Advisory councils provide a way for local community members to provide recommendations to the sanctuary superintendent and help guide sanctuary activities at each of the 14 sites managed by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. Across the sites, more than 740 council and working group members volunteered over 16,000 hours of their time last year. The topic of ocean acidification galvanized councils, with 13 councils taking action by educating council members on the topic, passing resolutions and making recommendations recognizing the threat it poses to sanctuary resources, and urging NOAA to take action at the national, regional and local level.

Sanctuaries Aid in Natural Disaster Recovery Efforts

volunteers on the beachRecently, nature has tested the readiness of two sites in the National Marine Sanctuary System. On Sept. 29, 2009, an 8.3 magnitude earthquake struck 190 kilometers southwest of American Samoa and generated a tsunami that devastated shorelines throughout the island, where the offices of Fagatele Bay National Marine Sanctuary are located. One year prior, Hurricane Ike passed directly over Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, leaving a trail of smashed corals and shifted sand before making landfall at Galveston Island, home to the sanctuary office and staff. While the primary concern in each of these disasters was for the safety of the site staff and their families, following both events sanctuary vessels and staff were deployed to assist local partners with recovery efforts and damage assessments of sanctuary resources. Staff members from the sanctuary system continue to work with other parts of NOAA to identify needs and support the recovery process wherever possible.

Monterey Bay Programs celebrate 10 Years of conservationcraft Operations Center.

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Water Quality Protection Program had much to celebrate in 2009. Both the Snapshot Day and First Flush water quality monitoring programs have provided resource managers with 10 years of data about the health of local streams and the pollutant concentrations in storm water runoff. With the help of thousands of volunteers and partners, these important programs have established a baseline of information about water flowing from our watersheds into the sanctuary. In addition, the Agriculture Water Quality Alliance celebrated 10 years of collaborative conservation efforts. This unique regional partnership brings together farmers, ranchers, resource conservation agencies, researchers and environmental organizations to protect the health of sanctuary waters. Farmers and ranchers of the central coast are setting an example for other regions by showing that economically viable agriculture is compatible with environmental protection.

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