Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest

In celebration of Get Into Your Sanctuary days, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting a photo contestFrom June 1 to July 15, send us your best photos of the National Marine Sanctuary System and help us celebrate the beauty and importance of these special places.

photo of a diver in a school of fish

National Marine Sanctuary System

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 170,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters from Washington state to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa. The network includes a system of 13 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

map highlighting sanctuary locations Thunder Bay Flower Garden Banks Stellwagen Bank Monitor Gray's Reef Florida Keys Channel Islands Monterey Bay Cordell Bank Gulf of the Farallones Olympic Coast Papahanaumokuakea Hawaii Humpback Whales American Samoa mallows-bay lake-michigan

Sanctuary Nomination Process

For the first time in two decades, NOAA invites communities across the nation to nominate their most treasured places in our marine and Great Lakes waters for consideration as national marine sanctuaries.

In response to ongoing widespread interest from the public, NOAA has launched a new, locally driven sanctuary nomination process developed with input from more than 18,000 public comments. Throughout the nomination process, NOAA will be available to answer questions and provide guidance to nominating communities and other interested parties. NOAA will also update nominators on the progress of the agency's review of their nomination.

Actor and activist Edward James Olmos lends his voice to the new sanctuary nomination process and offers a challenge to the American people. Watch in HD

earth is blue logo

When astronauts first launched toward the moon and looked back at our planet for the first time, they made an unexpected discovery: Earth is Blue.  Earth is Blue is a social media awareness campaign to highlight NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary System and its fourteen special marine protected areas across the country. The campaign began on October 23, 2014, the 42nd anniversary of the system, and shares one photo each day and one video each week highlighting the wonder and beauty of these special places and the work NOAA does to protect them.

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)

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: This month, we tell the story of Nathaniel Linville, owner of The Angling Company in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!

Sanctuary Spotlight

Visit a Sanctuary

National marine sanctuaries are ideal destinations for travelers who enjoy a diversity of recreational activities.

Plan your visit

Get Involved

Volunteers help to ensure marine sanctuaries remain America's underwater treasures for future generations.

How you can help