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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.

national marine Sanctuary system map

Sanctuary News

fish swimming around coral
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NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center: 20 Years of Helping U.S. Marine Protected Areas Navigate a Dynamic Ocean

Twenty years ago, new science was proving the effectiveness of marine protected areas – especially those that fully protect resources by banning fishing – in conserving marine life. Yet at the time, less than one one-thousandth of U.S. marine waters were fully protected. Globally, less than one percent of ocean waters were in any type of MPA. In response, ecologists and conservation organizations began to look for a way to enhance the federal government’s approach to ocean protection.

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Virtual Dives

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

Dive Into Your Sanctuaries

 

Our planet is an ocean planet: Earth Is Blue. The National Marine Sanctuary System protects some of the most iconic underwater places throughout the United States, but we can't do it without you. 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.

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Bright pink anemones and a barnacle
A Hawaiian monk seal mother and pup lying on a beach
Humpback whale underwater

 

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?

What does the National Marine Sanctuary System mean to you?

Earth is Blue Magazine

Explore Sanctuaries Live

with real-time video and communication feeds

Experience science beneath the waves

Waves crash near a light house

Sanctuary Nomination Process

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.

nominate.noaa.gov
a surfer and bodyboarder standing on the beach looking at the water

Visit

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

Plan your visit
a pair of kayakers with marine debris they collected on their kayak

Get Involved

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

How you can help