Diver ascending from the seafloor and up into sunlightImmerse Yourself in the Beauty of Your National Marine Sanctuaries

Sanctuary waters are filled with unique ecosystems waiting to be explored, harboring a spectacular array of plants, animals and historical artifacts. Discover a sense of wonder as you glide through a towering forest of giant kelp or experience the thrill of spotting a nurse shark lying beneath a ledge of colorful corals. You can even dive into America's rich maritime history as you explore the numerous shipwrecks found in sanctuary waters. These and other exciting dive opportunities await you in your national marine sanctuaries!

Move your mouse over the map below to learn more about diving in specific National Marine Sanctuaries.

Be a Smart Diver





Join efforts to preserve dive experiences for future generations of divers by protecting and supporting your national marine sanctuaries.

Sharpen your skills. Mastering buoyancy control and streamlining your equipment will help minimize the risk of entanglement or accidental disturbance of the bottom. Even the slightest damage can permanently alter an entire ecosystem or historical shipwreck site.

Learn the proper techniques for shipwreck diving. When diving shipwrecks, always know the orientation of the wreck site and only enter the wreck if specifically trained to do so.

Be familiar with kelp diving procedures. Always swim below the surface of a kelp canopy and navigate with your compass. Don't panic or thrash around if entangled, slowly remove the kelp or have your buddy gently untangle it for you.

Respect marine wildlife. Enjoy viewing marine mammals and wildlife from a safe distance. Should you encounter marine mammals and observe nervous behavior, back away.

Don't collect underwater souvenirs - leave them behind for others to enjoy. Resist the temptation to collect shells, rocks or other underwater artifacts, because they provide homes for sea creatures. Additionally, removal of any historical artifacts is regulated by law.

Be a marine debris crusader. Once you finish your dive, make sure to carry away any trash you - and others - may have left behind. Beach litter poses a significant threat to the health and survival of marine organisms, which can swallow or get tangled in beverage containers, plastic bags, six-pack rings and other debris.


E.B. Allen shipwreckAn essential component to the National Marine Sanctuary program’s mission is to preserve and protect our cultural and maritime heritage.  For divers this means great wreck diving! Several of the 13 sanctuaries and one marine national monument are are home to vessel remains, offering exceptional wreck diving opportunities. 

shipwreckIn the Shipwreck Trail of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, divers have the opportunity to explore sunken vessels in the hospitality of warm water and abundant marine life.  For the wreck diving purist, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers more than 100 wrecks lying in crystal clear waters from 12 to 180 feet deep.  To find more information on your nation’s maritime treasures click on any of the links below.

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Revised February 20, 2014 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
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