National Marine Sanctuary System

The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries serves as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 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 14 national marine sanctuaries and Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments.

map showing the locations of the national marine sanctuaries

Explore Sanctuaries Live

with real-time video and communication feeds from underwater

Experience science beneath the waves

earth is blue magazine volume 4 cover - a humpback whale

Earth Is Blue Magazine - Volume 4

  • Dark Water Journey: Eva Pagaling
  • Shipwrecked Sponges
  • Documenting the Graveyard of the Atlantic
  • Honoring the Tuskegee Airmen
  • Blue Star for the Ocean: Captain Will Benson
  • Black Sea Bass
  • Hidden Gem: The Samoan Dive Experience
  • Diving Into History
  • Don't Be That Guy
  • Treasures of the Blue
  • There's Some-Fin Special About Sanctuaries
  • Sharks in your National Marine Sanctuary System
  • Conservation Photography: Keith Ellenbogen
  • Hawaiian Monk Seal
  • Octopus's Garden
  • Oasis in the Deep
  • Spawntaneous Generation
  • Paws up for Science: Jessie Hale
  • Sea Otter
  • Return of the King
  • Navigating an Ocean of Change
  • Tracking Sanctuary Trends
  • Guardians of the Ocean: Susan Dahlgren, Gault School
  • Laysan Albatross
  • Goal Clean Seas
  • Partners that Count

Virtual Dives

Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet!

Dive Into Your Sanctuaries

earth is blue logo

When you look at our planet from space, one thing is abundantly clear: Earth Is Blue. Our planet is an ocean planet, and whether you live near the coast or a thousand miles from it, the ocean is part of your life. From providing the food we eat to determining our weather, the ocean matters to each of us -- and the National Marine Sanctuary System protects this vital resource.

With that in mind, the photos and videos of Earth Is Blue bring these ocean treasures directly to smartphones and computers all over the world, where they can serve as a tangible reminder that no matter where you are, the ocean and Great Lakes are in your hands. We hope these images inspire you to help care for our ocean and to spread the word that Earth isn't green -- it's blue.

Join us on instagram logo twitter logo facebook logo youtube logo youtube logo and submit your own photos.

An anemone beginning to eat a crab

Despite their colorful and flowery appearance, sea anemones – like this one in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary tide pool – are carnivorous predators! A sea anemone's tentacles can sense even the slightest touch, triggering a rapid sting that paralyzes its prey. Sea anemones commonly snatch up small fish or crustaceans that cross their path. It's been a crabby day for this unlucky crustacean. (Photo: Sarah Heintzelman/NOAA)

Along the California coastline not far from San Francisco, Bolinas Lagoon is a magical place for birders, wildlife watchers, paddlers, and more. Recently, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has been working with partners to restore this special habitat so it can thrive and adapt to future changes.

Stories from the Blue

Stories from the Blue celebrate the people at the center of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments.

What does the National Marine Sanctuary System mean to you?

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

Sanctuary Spotlight

illustration of the number 430 with a airplane and shipwreck

We are pleased to share with you the final version of Our Vision for America's Treasured Ocean Places, our five-year plan for advancing the protection of the amazing ocean and Great Lakes places managed by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. This document incorporates feedback from staff, members of the public, and a number of partner institutions and entities received throughout the process, including during a comment period posted in March 2017. 

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