earth is blue

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.

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fish swimming above coral

Corals like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa form the backbone of healthy ocean ecosystems. Coral reefs support more species per unit than any other marine environment, including some 4,000 species of fish! Corals also form the backbone of healthy human communities. They buffer shorelines from wave actions and prevent storm damage, they provide food and recreational opportunities, and even are the source of new medicines. What do corals do for you? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

This year, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 25th anniversary. To celebrate, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director John Armor took a dive in the sanctuary. Find out what he thought of his first dive there!

Andrea Kealoha taking a self while on a boat
Dec. 12, 2017: Post-hurricane monitoring is a collaborative effort! In the wake of Hurricane Harvey, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Andrea Kealoha and her colleagues at Texas A&M University have assisted with monitoring efforts in the Gulf of Mexico, including Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Andrea and other researchers have been collecting water samples in the Gulf and will analyze them to see what impact the hurricane has had on ocean conditions. (Photo courtesy of Andrea Kealoha)
Bolosoma stalked glass sponge
Dec. 11, 2017: Today is International Mountain Day! While we may think of mountains as the ones that tower above us on land, there are also mountains under the sea. These seamounts serve as important habitats for all sorts of marine species. This Bolosoma stalked glass sponge was spotted on the Malulu Seamount during a research expedition in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. It's possibly a new species! (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
several people aboard a boat on the water
Dec 10, 2017: "As a fisherman my main goal is to have as little impact on our ocean as possible. That means do not discard any garbage and follow the fishing rules that are not only in place to protect our fish, but also to protect our fishermen of the future. I am most proud of my work trying to bridge the gap between fishermen and environmentalists. They may not share many of the same views, but they do share the same view when it comes to understanding our need to protect our ocean." – Richard Gomez, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary advisory council member What inspires you about the ocean? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
common dolphin popping out of the water
Dec. 9, 2017: This common dolphin popped up to say hello in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! Common dolphins are gregarious, sometimes gathering in groups of hundreds or thousands. They're frequently spotted bowriding, or surfing in the waves created by boats. Have you seen them while visiting your West Coast sanctuaries? (Photo: John Burke)
fish hiding among coral
Dec. 8, 2017: Corals are at the heart of many ocean ecosystems. For example, the extensive coral reefs of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands are home to more than 7,000 marine species, one quarter of which are only found in the Hawaiian Archipelago! These lush ecosystems are protected by Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Here, a melon butterflyfish takes shelter in an Acropora coral. Can you name some of the other marine species that live in Hawai‘i? (Photo: Stephen Matadobra/NOAA)
close up of coral spawning
Dec. 7, 2017: Every August, seven to 10 days after the full moon, the reef-building corals of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on a fantastic spawning display, one of the most abundant displays in the entire Caribbean. Most scientists agree that these mass spawning events are designed to allow genetic mixing and dispersal of offspring over large distances. Plus, the sheer volume of the events allow for the fertilization and survival of a significant number of larvae despite the best efforts of predators! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
fish swimming above coral
Dec. 6, 2017: Corals like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa form the backbone of healthy ocean ecosystems. Coral reefs support more species per unit than any other marine environment, including some 4,000 species of fish! Corals also form the backbone of healthy human communities. They buffer shorelines from wave actions and prevent storm damage, they provide food and recreational opportunities, and even are the source of new medicines. What do corals do for you? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
close up view of coral polyps
Dec. 5, 2017: Though they may look an awful lot like plants, corals are actually animals! Coral structures are made up of tiny individuals called polyps. At night, these polyps extend their tentacles to feed on tiny floating zooplankton. Look closely at this coral in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and you can see its tentacles reaching out! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
Northern elephant seals among other seals on the beach with it mouth open
Dec. 4, 2017: Northern elephant seals like these in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are a huge conservation success story. They were once hunted for their blubber, and were considered extinct until a small colony of just a few dozen seals was found in the early 20th century. Since then, thanks to conservation efforts, northern elephant seal populations along the California coast have made an amazing recovery! (Photo: Katy Laveck Foster)
fish swimming among the reef
Dec. 3, 2017: "Most people are fascinated that we have a sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico and often want to hear more about Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Their eyes light up when I begin to talk about scuba diving and how fascinating it is. I try to encourage people to not only get scuba certified, but to take a trip to see the Flower Garden Banks in person. We live in such an incredible world and it is our responsibility to manage it effectively for future generations and the health of the overall ecosystem." – Natalie Davis, NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council member (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)
North Atlantic right whales swimming
Dec. 2, 2017: Heads up! Here's a North Atlantic right whale swimming in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Look closely and you can see the whale's baleen plates. Right whales have more than 200 baleen plates per side, and use them to filter tasty plankton meals. North Atlantic right whales are extremely endangered, with only about 500 remaining. The sanctuary works hard to find ways to protect these whales, including by working with the Port of Boston to reroute vessel traffic to reduce the risk of ship strikes. (Photo: Peter Flood)
diver assessing damage to coral
Dec. 1, 2017: How is NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary doing in the wake of Hurricane Irma? Sanctuary managers and scientists have been hard at work assessing damage from the hurricane. Preliminary reports from dive teams have found extensive shifting of sand, which can smother corals, and some structural damage to corals and the reef. Learn more about the assessment and what comes next. (Photo: NOAA)
view from a pier looking to the water and along the coast of california
Nov. 30, 2017: How'd you like to end your day with this view? Standing on the pier in Point Arena, California, you can take in this breathtaking view of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Even from shore, national marine sanctuaries offer stunning sights. (Photo: Michael Beattie)
seahorse blending into its surrounding
Nov. 29, 2017: Well that's a horse of a different color! Scientific divers in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary got a treat when they spotted this seahorse hanging out. Though seahorses are known to dwell within Gray's Reef, it's not often that you get to see one! (Photo: NOAA)
green sea turtle
Nov. 28, 2017: Say hello to this honu! Honu is Hawaiian for green sea turtle, the most commonly seen sea turtle throughout the Hawaiian Islands. Adult honu are unique among sea turtles in that they only eat plants, feeding primarily on seagrasses and algae. This one was spotted at Pearl and Hermes Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: John Burns/NOAA)
sea lion swimming throuh a kelp forest
Nov. 27, 2017: You're being watched...by this California sea lion in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! Sea lions are gregarious, curious creatures – many will approach divers to see what they're up to. Always remember, though, that these are wild animals: let them control the interaction and never follow them. If they want space, it's best to let them have it! (Photo: Curtis Wee)
diver photograhing a coral reef
Nov. 26, 2017: "The natural environment in my area is my refuge; therefore, I work to protect it in all of my daily decisions. Whether its choosing to bring along my reusable water bottle or picking up any trash that I see on the ground, I am constantly looking for ways to protect our planet's marine ecosystems from anthropogenic harm. As a marine educator, I am most proud of my ability to potentially inspire the next generation of ocean stewards through engaging students in hands-on stewardship activities." -Alyssa Nally, program coordinator for the Ocean Guardian School Program. (Photo: Diver in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
360 photosphere of the wreck of the american union
Nov. 25, 2017: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects some of our nation's best-preserved shipwrecks. These shipwrecks are a living museum, a way for divers, snorkelers, kayakers, and more to get up close to the maritime history of the Great Lakes. In this photo taken by a 360-degree camera, a diver explores the wreck of American Union. This three-masted schooner sank in 1894 after running aground on the rocks at Thompson's Harbor. (Photo: NOAA)
man standing on a rock on the beach at sunset with waves coming in
Nov. 24, 2017: Looking for adventure – or at least to stretch your legs – after yesterday's feast? Your national marine sanctuaries are the perfect place to get outside and take in the scenery, catch a wave, take a dip, or more! This photo shows Ruby Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Find out other places to visit. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
group of sea lions cooling off in the water
Nov. 23, 2017: Feeling stuffed after your Thanksgiving meal? These sea lions in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary have the right idea! Sea lions use their flippers to help cool down -- their flippers have less blubber than the rest of their body, so heat can escape from the flipper's surface when sea lions hold them above the water. Sounds like a good way to relax after a celebration! (Photo: Nicole Capps/NOAA)
nudibranchs
Nov. 22, 2017: Watch out -- those beautiful orange strands pack a punch! Some nudibranchs eat hydroids and anemones, which have stinging cells in their tentacles. When they eat the stinging cells, these nudibranchs can transfer some of them to their cerata, reusing their prey's defense mechanism as their own. This nudibranch was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Geoff Ehlers)
masked booby floating n the water
Nov. 21, 2017: Heads up! This masked booby is taking in the view from the waves of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is a haven for seabirds: some 14 million seabirds, representing 22 species, breed and nest here. (Photo: Andrew Gray/NOAA)
members of tribe prepare to launch a canoe into the water
Nov. 20, 2017: November is Native American Heritage Month! Indigenous peoples have been relying on and stewarding ocean areas for millennia. Today, national marine sanctuaries work closely with Native American tribes and nations to protect our natural heritage. Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, for example, collaborates with the Quinault Indian Nation and the Hoh, Quileute, and Makah tribes to ensure these Pacific Northwestern waters are protected for everyone. Here, a canoe is launched near Cannonball Rock. (Photo: NOAA)
a pair of whales breaching
Nov. 19, 2017: "Being born and raised in the Hawaiian Islands, I spent a lot of time connecting with and enjoying the ocean. Those experiences have completely shaped the person I am today, as well as provided me a strong conservation ethic. I love my job, because I get to bring awareness of America's underwater treasures and promote ocean conservation and stewardship to the next generation of leaders in our country." What inspires you about the ocean? (Photo: Humpback whale in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Credit: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15240)
two kids cleaning up marine debris from the beach
Nov. 18, 2017: National marine sanctuaries are living laboratories – the perfect places for kids to get a hands-on understanding of the marine world. Through our Ocean Guardian School program, schools make commitments to the protection and conservation of their local watersheds, the ocean, and national marine sanctuaries. Recently, 3rd through 6th graders from one Ocean Guardian School, Adams Elementary School, visited Hendry's Beach in Southern California. They learned techniques for beach monitoring and tried out research protocols. By working on the beach, the students got a taste of what it's like to be a scientist, and got to learn more about the sand crabs scuttling around them! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
long-spined sea urchin hangs out on an orange elephant ear sponge
Nov. 17, 2017: Brittle beauty: a long-spined sea urchin hangs out on an orange elephant ear sponge in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. In the 1980s, many of these urchins died off throughout the Caribbean. However, in many areas they've made a comeback – especially at Stetson Bank in the sanctuary! A very healthy population resides there, chomping down on algae and keeping it from overgrowing on sponges and corals. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
two whitespotted filefish
Nov. 16, 2017: Happy anniversary to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Today, the sanctuary is 27 years old. Within this sanctuary's 2,900 square nautical miles lie the world's third-largest barrier reef, extensive seagrass beds, mangrove-fringed islands, and more than 6,000 species of marine life. One of these species is the whitespotted filefish, which you can see here in two different color phases! (Photo: Daryl Duda)
whale breaching
Nov. 15, 2017: In Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, you can find 34 species of marine mammals -- can you name them all? We'll give you a start: one of them is the blue whale. These enormous whales can weigh 400,000 lbs, making them the largest animals ever to live in our planet's history. They also have impressively loud voices: their frequency sounds can travel hundreds of miles in deep water! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
Moray eel popping head out of its hiding spot
Nov. 14, 2017: When you're down by the sea and an eel bites your knee...that's a moray! Whitemouth moray eels like this one can be spotted in the waters in and around National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Moray eels frequently open and close their mouths, giving them a threatening appearance, but don't worry -- they're actually just breathing! This jaw movement helps move water past their gills. (Photo: National Park Service)
close up on an octopus eye
Nov. 13, 2017: I've got my eye on you! This common octopus, or Octopus vulgaris, gave the photographer a stern eye in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Common octopuses (or octopodes, if you want to get fancy) can change color with the help of specialized cells called chromatophores. These cells help the octopus communicate and blend in with its surroundings! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
California sea lions swimming
Nov. 12, 2017: Just a nice weekend dip in the ocean! These California sea lions were spotted in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, off Southern California. California sea lions often spend several days at a time at sea, diving almost continuously to forage for fish, squid, and other prey. Have you spotted these gregarious pinnipeds while visiting your national marine sanctuaries? (Photo: Katy Laveck Foster)
diver photographing the wreck of the uss monitor
Nov. 11, 2017: On New Year's Eve 1862, the U.S. Navy's first ironclad warship, the USS Monitor, sank in a storm of the coast of North Carolina. Its resting place became our first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Today, the sanctuary protects this important artifact of our nation's history: monitor.noaa.gov. (Photo: NOAA)
diver swimming over the wreck of the florida
Nov. 10, 2017: Located in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the perfect place for divers, snorkelers, paddlers, and more to get up close to Great Lakes history. The sanctuary protects some of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the nation, including the steamer Florida, pictured here. During dense fog in 1897, Florida collided with the steamer George W. Roby. Florida was nearly cut in half by the collision and sunk 200 feet to where it lies today, open to divers who want to explore the wreck. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
manatee
Nov. 9, 2017: November is Manatee Awareness Month! In the winter months, these large herbivores are often found in shallow, quiet waters of NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary where seagrass beds or vegetation flourish. Because manatees are slow-moving, they cannot swim quickly away from boats, and boat strikes often injure or kill these creatures. If you're boating in a known manatee habitat, keep them safe and slow down! (Photo: Nick Aumen/U.S. Geological Survey (USGS))
Risso's dolphin leaping through the waves
Nov. 8, 2017: Lift off! This Risso's dolphin was spotted leaping through the waves in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Risso's dolphins are easily identifiable by their white scars, which may be made by other Risso's dolphins or by squid, their preferred prey. These dolphins feed mostly at night, hunting squid that move toward the surface. (Photo: Douglas Croft Images)
Laysan albatross chick
Nov. 7, 2017: Fashionable hairstyle or adorable floof? This Laysan albatross chick is looking stylish on Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Help us out and caption this photo! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
students from the Quileute Tribal School pilot remotely operated vehicles that they built
Nov. 7, 2017: November is Native American Heritage Month! Indigenous peoples have relied on and protected the ocean for centuries. Many national marine sanctuaries, like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, now work closely with local tribes. Here, students from the Quileute Tribal School pilot remotely operated vehicles that they built with help from the sanctuary and the University of Washington School of Oceanography. (Photo: NOAA)
scorpionfish blending into the reef
Nov. 5, 2017: Talk about camouflage -- can you spot the spotted scorpionfish staring right at you? If you have keen eyes, you might come across this fish while diving on Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. Their mottled coloring and odd texture help them blend in with the reef so they can sneak up on prey like small fish and crustaceans, then swallow them in one fast gulp! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)
whales
Nov. 4, 2017: Happy birthday to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Though thousands of miles apart, both of these sanctuaries have offered refuge to humpback whales for the past 25 years. Each summer, humpback whales migrate from the Caribbean to Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they and other whales feast on the food that flourishes in sanctuary waters. And in the Pacific, humpback whales journey to the warm waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands each winter to mate, calve, and raise their young. (Top photo: Peter Flood. Bottom photo: NOAA, under NOAA permit #774-1714)
jellyfish
Nov. 3, 2017: Happy Jellyfish Day! It's not hard to tell how this egg yolk jelly got its name. The "yolk" of this jellyfish is actually its reproductive tissue. Its thin white tentacles can hang up to 20 feet below the jelly's bell, creating a drift net that can capture its prey of other jellies. Egg yolk jellies are found in many national marine sanctuaries; this one was spotted in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Josh Pederson/NOAA)
octopus
Nov. 2, 2017: What has eight arms, dwells in the deep sea, and is undeniably adorable? This octopus! This summer, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore West Coast national marine sanctuaries. One area we explored was Bodega Canyon, a deep-sea canyon within Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. This canyon is over 5,200 feet deep, and extends from the continental shelf to the deep sea. It provides refuge for fish, deep-water corals, and octopuses like this one! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
diver writing on a clipboard
Nov. 1, 2017: This month, NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary teamed up with partners to assess damage to the coral reef from Hurricane Irma. Preliminary reports from the team found extensive shifting of sand and heavy sediment accumulation, which can smother and prevent corals from getting enough sunlight, as well as some structural damage to individual corals and the reef itself. This effort is the first step in a longer recovery process. Here, a science diver notes reef conditions. Learn more about the assessment at https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/whatsnew/
releases/2017/
20171024-noaa-partners-assess-coral-reef-damage-following-hurricane-irma.html
and see images at https://floridakeys.noaa.gov/whatsnew/releases/
2017/post-hurricane-irma-gallery.html
. (Photo: Brenda Altmeier/NOAA)
Anglerfish
Oct. 31, 2017: Not every creature in the ocean is cute and cuddly – some are downright spooky! Anglerfish like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary lurk in the dark, waiting to lure prey in with the light atop their head. Are you wearing an ocean-related costume for Halloween? Let us know in the comments! (Photo: Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI))
diver takes measurements on a small engine at an unknown shipwreck
Oct. 30, 2017: How are you starting your work week? Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary diver and archaeologist takes measurements on a small engine at an unknown shipwreck. Measurements like this one help accurately scale models of these shipwrecks. This summer, the sanctuary teamed up with the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management to assess shipwreck sites like this one near Frying Pan Shoals, North Carolina, in order to evaluate areas under consideration for wind energy development. (Photo: Willie Hoffman/BOEM)
Hawaiian monk seal sunning on the beach
Oct. 29, 2017: This Hawaiian monk seal is having an excellent weekend catching some rays -- are you? Hawaiian monk seals live throughout the Hawaiian Islands, including in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. These seals are very endangered: only about 1,400 of them remain in the wild. However, there is good news! After about six decades of population decline, the Hawaiian monk seal population has actually risen every year for the last three years. An estimated 30 percent of the seals alive today are here because they benefited from a lifesaving intervention or are the child or grandchild of a female that benefitted. Thank you to our partners NOAA Fisheries Service, Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources), USFWS Pacific Region, U.S. Coast Guard, and others for helping us save Hawaiian monk seals! Learn more about these efforts. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA, under NMSF Research Permit #10137)
Pink coralline algae covering coral
Oct. 28, 2017: What makes Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa so rosy? Coralline algae! Pink coralline algae dominates the atoll's fringing reef, giving it a rosy hue. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
jellyfish swimming
Oct. 27, 2017: It's the moment we've all been waiting for -- here's the first place winner of the "Sanctuary Life" category of our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! Curtis Wee photographed this beautiful bloom of sea nettles drifting through Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Congratulations, Curtis! Check out the photo contest winners and entries. Thank you to everyone who submitted photographs! (Photo: Curtis Wee)
mother sea otter grooming her pup
Oct. 26, 2017: Talk about otterly adorable! Second place in the "Sanctuary Life" category of our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest goes to Eric Palmer with this photograph of a mother sea otter grooming her pup. Eric spotted these two in Monterey Bay Aquarium's Great Tidepool at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Eric Palmer)
green sea turtle swimming
Oct. 25, 2017: This week, we're celebrating the winners of the "Sanctuary Life" category in our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! In third place comes Mike Rineer with this photo of a green sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Congratulations, Mike! (Photo: Mike Rineer)
whale leaping out of the water
Oct. 24, 2017: 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. Three years ago today, we launched Earth Is Blue to bring the treasures of the ocean and Great Lakes directly to you through images and videos. Earth Is Blue is a tangible reminder that no matter where you are, the ocean and Great Lakes are in your hand, and we hope these posts inspire you to help care for our ocean and to spread the word that Earth isn't green -- it's blue. You can see all the photos we've shared so far at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue. We can't wait to see what this new year of Earth Is Blue brings! (Photo: Douglas Croft Imagest, taken in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary)
masked booby standing on a sea turtle's shell
Oct. 23, 2017: This masked booby is singing happy birthday to us! 45 years ago today, Congress passed legislation establishing the National Marine Sanctuary Program. Today, we serve as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes! It's been a pleasure to serve as stewards for our special marine and Great Lakes places, and we're looking forward to the next 45 years. Please help us celebrate by sharing your favorite sanctuary memories in the comments! (Photo: Koa Matsuoka, taken in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument)
blue whale
Oct. 22, 2017: Pop quiz: what's the biggest animal ever to live on Earth? If you guessed the blue whale, you're right! These animals are so massive it can be hard to picture: an adult blue whale is approximately the length of a basketball court, and its tongue alone weighs as much as an African elephant. Even blue whale babies are pretty major -- a newborn blue whale can weigh as much as four dairy cows combined! This blue whale was spotted taking a breath in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. (Photo: Holly Fearnbach/NOAA)
humback whale
Oct. 21, 2017: Happy birthday to the Marine Mammal Protection Act! Enacted on this day in 1972, this important piece of legislation helps us protect animals like this humpback whale in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. The Act ensures that marine mammals like whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters, and dolphins can carry out their normal lives without disruption -- and without the threat of hunting, poaching, or exploitation. (Photo: Laura Lilly)
Point Arena Lighthouse
Oct. 20, 2017: Drumroll, please! First place in the "Sanctuary Views" category of our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest goes to Michael Beattie, with this spectacular photo of the Point Arena Light overlooking Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Please join us in congratulating Michael! (Photo: Michael Beattie)
 anemone garden in a kelp forest
Oct. 19, 2017: Take a deep breath and plunge into this anemone garden! Michelle Manson's colorful photograph claims the second place spot in the "Sanctuary Views" category of our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest. She photographed this lush area of the kelp forest in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Congrats to Michelle! (Photo: Michelle Manson)
Shipwreck Rowers passing the Alpena Light
Oct. 18, 2017: This week we're celebrating the winners of the "Sanctuary Views" category of our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest. Today, check out our third place winner! Bryan Dort took this photo in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. On this foggy morning, the Shipwreck Rowers passed the Alpena Light in a Heritage-23 Mackinaw Boat, a boat based on the historic vessels used throughout the upper Great Lakes in the 1800s. (Photo: Bryan Dort)
eels around an underwater volcano
Oct. 17, 2017: Welcome to Eel City! In 2005, scientists were exploring Vailulu'u, a underwater volcano that is now protected by National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Recently, Vailulu'u has been forming a new volcanic cone within its caldera, named Nafanua. Hot water emanates from vents in Nafanua, and scientists were startled to see that crevices at the summit were occupied by thriving aggregations of cutthroat eels! It's believed that the eels use the vent as a habitat and feed on crustaceans that pass by Nafanua's summit on ocean currents. Learn more: oceanexplorer.noaa.gov/
explorations/05vailuluu/
(Photo courtesy of Vailulu'u 2005 Exploration, NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
manta ray swimming
Oct. 16, 2017: Manta alert! This manta ray was spotted swimming near the wreck of the USS Monitor in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. The Civil War-era shipwreck now serves as a habitat for all kinds of sea life, including manta rays like this one! (Photo: NOAA)
diver examining a ochre star on tatoosh island
Oct. 15, 2017: Happy sea star Sunday! NOAA biologist Greg Williams examines an ochre star on Tatoosh Island in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. This August, Greg and other science divers collected information on kelp forest communities within the sanctuary. Kelp forests are an important habitat within the sanctuary, providing refuge to juvenile fish, invertebrates, and more, which in turn feed predators like seabirds and sea otters. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
hawaiian monk seal swimming
Oct. 14, 2017: Success story: though Hawaiian monk seals are one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, recent assessments show that their population has increased by 3 percent annually for the past three years! This turnaround comes after more than six decades of population decline. Today, the population is estimated at around 1,400 seals -- about 1,100 in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and 300 in the main Hawaiian Islands, including Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The population still has a ways to go to return to its historical levels, but we're glad to see recovery efforts are helping this adorable pinniped! (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
surfer standing on a rock cliff looking out at the ocean while wave crash round him
Oct. 13, 2017: Drumroll please! First place in our 2017 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest (Sanctuary Portraits category) goes to Douglas Croft! Here, a surfer contemplates the swell at Lighthouse Point in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Congratulations to Douglas Croft for catching this quiet moment before an adventure. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
diver in the water with light shining down from above
Oct. 12, 2017: Today, we share with you the second place winner of the Sanctuary Portraits category in the 2017 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest! Steve Miller takes second place with his diver silhouetted in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Steve Miller)
people venturing out onto black rock in maui
Oct. 11, 2017: Winners of the 2017 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest have been decided! Over the next three weeks, we'll be sharing the winners from each of our contest categories -- Sanctuary Portraits, Sanctuary Views, and Sanctuary Life -- on social media. This week we're proud to feature the winners of the Sanctuary Portraits category! Dan Mitchell takes third place with his photo of people venturing out onto Black Rock in Maui, in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Congratulations to Dan! Check back in tomorrow to see who took second place. (Photo: Dan Mitchell)
atlantic brief squid
Oct. 10, 2017: Happy Squid Day from this Atlantic brief squid in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Look closely at this little squid -- see those small red dots? Those are chromatophores, specialized cells that change color. Squid and octopuses use these cells to camouflage themselves, flash warnings to predators, and communicate with one another. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
rocky cliffs and seastacks in olymyic coast national marine sanctuary
Oct. 9, 2017: Though they might look barren from afar, rocky cliffs and seastacks in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary provide key habitat for many marine species. Crevices and caves offer shelter to small invertebrates, while channels and passageways allow fish to roam with relative protection. Beneath the waves on these rocky reef habitats, you'll find animal life clinging to every surface, and seaweeds thriving in the upper layers of the water. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
a giant pacific octopus among rocks
Oct. 8, 2017: Happy Octopus Day! Octopuses are found throughout most of your national marine sanctuaries -- this giant Pacific octopus was spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. What's your favorite species of octopus? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Kip Evans)
warty sea slug on the ocean bottom
Oct. 7, 2017: Weird or cute? We think both! This is a warty sea slug, Dendrodoris warta -- and it's pretty easy to see how it gets its name. This sea slug, or nudibranch, was spotted in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
divers swimming among a school of fish and over a shipwreck
Oct. 6, 2017: A tricky day at the office: sometimes it can be hard for maritime archaeologists to see shipwrecks around all the fish! Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary archaeologist Will Sassorossi tries to take a look at the USS Schurz while fish school around divers and the wreck. Schurz sank during World War I after a collision in dense fog. Today, the wreck rests in about 110 feet of water off Beaufort, North Carolina. Learn more about shipwrecks off North Carolina's coast. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
a close up of a purple coral
Oct. 5, 2017: What's a coral, anyway -- animal, vegetable, or mineral? Though they look like plants, corals are actually animals. Coral colonies are made up of hundreds or thousands of tiny creatures called polyps, which have tentacles that they use to capture food from the water. These polyps secrete a hard skeleton of limestone. Most corals also harbor an algae called zooxanthellae, which produce oxygen and food for the corals through photosynthesis. These zooxanthellae are also what give corals their vibrant colors. Look closely here and you can see the individual polyps on this coral in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
a humpback whale feeding on anchovies at the surface of the ocean
Oct. 4, 2017: Now there's a mouthful! Here, a humpback whale in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary takes a big gulp of anchovies. This California sanctuary protects a diverse marine ecosystem that is home to 34 different species of marine mammals. How many of them have you seen? (Photo: Douglas Croft Images)
a green sea turtle swimming
Oct. 3, 2017: Happy Turtle Tuesday! This green sea turtle is taking a leisurely swim in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Adult green sea turtles are unique among sea turtles in that they only eat plants, feeding primarily on seagrasses and algae. Despite this plant-based diet, green sea turtles can weigh 300 pounds or more! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
a red pencil urchin
Oct. 2, 2017: Red pencil urchins like this one are one of the most distinctive species of sea urchins! Found in throughout the waters of Hawai‘i, these urchins have thick, pencil-shaped spines that are typically bright red. In Native Hawaiian, they're known as hā‘uke‘uke ‘ula‘ula. This one was spotted at Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
a man fishing on the shore
Oct. 1, 2017: Did you know October is National Seafood Month? National marine sanctuaries are excellent places for sustainable recreational saltwater fishing and other activities. Ocean recreation can help children and families experience nature and foster a sense of responsibility for our environment. Plus, since recreational anglers spend much of their free time on the water, they are often the first to observe changes to habitats, helping support effective management of our sanctuaries! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA, taken in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary)
aerial view of sea others
Sep. 30, 2017: These little specks aren't bugs -- they're sea otters! Sea otters often gather in loose-knit groups called rafts. Last June, researchers spotted a huge raft of sea otters in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, near the mouth of the Hoh River. These 687 otters represent nearly 40 percent of the Washington sea otter population! While typically rafts of sea otters include only males or females and pups, this one included all three. (Photo: Washington Department of Fish & Wildlife)
a sea otter mom holds her pup
Sep. 29, 2017: Otterly adorable cuddles: here, a sea otter mom holds tight to her pup in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Help us out by captioning this photo! (Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium)
sea otter holding kelp
Sep. 28, 2017: Otter up! Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Jessica Hale spotted this male sea otter through a telescope while studying sea otter eating habits in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. One way you can tell male and female sea otters apart is that males have much thicker necks, which this little guy is exhibiting well! (Photo: Jessica Hale)
sea otter playing with marine debris
Sep. 27, 2017: Today is World Tourism Day. When you visit sanctuaries, you can help sea otters thrive by making sure to give these animals plenty of space and properly disposing of your garbage. Photographer Douglas Croft spotted this sea otter in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary enjoying a newfound toy -- but points out that "if this 'toy' had had a hole in it and her head got stuck, it could have been a death sentence." By following good ocean etiquette and packing your trash out, you can help protect sea otters and other marine life! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
sea otters swimming
Sep. 26, 2017: After decades of being hunted for their fur, sea otters were once extinct from the shores of Washington State -- but they've made an otterly amazing recovery! In 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were relocated to Washington from Alaska. Today, the population has grown to more than 1,800! Many of these individuals live in the waters of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where you can sometimes spot them feeding and resting. (Photo: Kristine Sowl/ U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service )
diver photographing a shipwreck
Sep. 25, 2017: Happy anniversary to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This Lake Huron sanctuary is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes. Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals have earned the area the name "Shipwreck Alley." Today, the sanctuary protects more than 100 known shipwrecks, including the wreck of John J. Audubon, pictured here. This wooden two-masted schooner sank in 1854 in 170 feet of water after a collision with the schooner Defiance. (Photo: Doug Kesling/NOAA)
sea otter at the surface of the water
Sep. 24, 2017: "Who, me? Are you talking about me?" We sure are! This week is Sea Otter Awareness Week, and we'll be celebrating the sea otters of your national marine sanctuaries. These fuzzy creatures can be found in many of your West Coast sanctuaries. What's your favorite thing about them? (Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium)
fisherman hold a fish he caught
Sep. 23, 2017: Today is National Hunting and Fishing Day! More than just a favorite pastime, sustainable recreational fishing can be an important contributor to conservation. Many anglers are extremely familiar with sanctuary conditions, habitats, and species, and can serve as valuable eyes on the water for sanctuary researchers. Learn about fishing in your sanctuaries. (Photo: On The Water, taken in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary)
giant Pacific octopus
Sep. 22, 2017: Happy birthday to NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary from us and this giant Pacific octopus! This Southern California sanctuary protects an area with remarkable biodiversity: here, you'll find deep sea corals, lush kelp forests, and more. Learn more: channelislands.noaa.gov. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
people birding on a walk on Kent Island
Sep. 21, 2017: Wish you could get to know your national marine sanctuaries better? Many sanctuaries have regular educational opportunities, like Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary's Sanctuary Explorations. Recently, participants experienced a morning bird walk on Kent Island, then helped restore the island's native plants! Learn more about the series. (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)
fish swimming over the wreck of the u-boat u-352
Sep. 20, 2017: On the ocean floor, a shipwreck can harbor new life. Here, the German U-boat U-352 rests off the coast of North Carolina. Sunk in 1942 by the USCGC Icarus, today U-352 is a vibrant habitat for multiple species of marine life. This photograph was taken on a recent research dive by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary maritime archaeologists. Learn more about the wreck. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
boy looking through binoculars at the ocean
Sep. 19, 2017: Many people feel a deep connection to their national marine sanctuaries -- but how many have named their family members after them? When Sonoma County high school sweethearts Anna and Justin Girkout got married and started a family, they knew they wanted to maintain a strong connection to the coast and ocean they loved. What better way than to name their son Cordell, after Cordell Bank, a biologically-rich offshore feature protected by Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary? Anna explains that "Our hope is that with a name like Cordell, our son will always have a connection to the coast and will grow to love and respect it as much as we do." At 3 1/2 years old, Cordell happily declares that the beach is his favorite place. Anna says he loves to dig in the sand and find rock and shell treasures, and has even been known to spot a whale or two out in the waves. Maybe when he gets older he'll be able to get offshore to Cordell Bank in person! How do you connect to your sanctuaries? (Photo: Anna Girkout)
a newborn Risso's dolphin calf leaping out of the water
Sep. 18, 2017: Happy 25th anniversary to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This amazing national marine sanctuary protects jaw-dropping scenic beauty and extraordinary biodiversity, and supports amazing coastal communities. By acting as responsible stewards of this ocean jewel, we strengthen our nation now and for future generations. Here, a newborn Risso's dolphin calf celebrates the sanctuary's birthday! Help us and our dolphin friend celebrate by sharing your favorite Monterey Bay memory. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
Michelle Modest holds an underwater hydrophone ready for deployment
Sep. 17, 2017: Research in action! Here, UC Santa Cruz PhD student Michelle Modest holds an underwater hydrophone ready for deployment in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. On a recent research cruise in the sanctuary, scientists surveyed soundscapes and seafloor environments. The data they collect will help inform sanctuary management decisions and protect the habitats and animals within the Changroup of people posing with marine debris they have collectednel Islands! (Photo: Lindsey Peavey/NOAA)
Sep. 16, 2017: Today is the International Coastal Cleanup! Let us know how you’re helping to promote healthy, debris-free shores! (Photo: NOAA)
citizen scientist writing results on a clipboard
Sep. 15, 2017: Gather that data! Since July 2012, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, in partnership with NOAA Marine Debris and the NOAA Office of Response and Restoration, has participated in the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project. Through the program, citizen scientists survey six beach locations on a monthly basis. The data they collect help researchers track the type, abundance, and distribution of debris on sanctuary shores while also protecting habitat through debris cleanup efforts. Many thanks to our volunteers! (Photo: Kate Bimrose/NOAA)
hawaiian monk seal next to a plastic bouy on the beach
Sep. 14, 2017: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects some of the most remote uninhabited islands on Earth, but tons of trash makes its way there each year. These remote islands provide refuge for many endangered and threatened species, like this Hawaiian monk seal -- but the abundance of trash makes it harder for those species to thrive. By reducing our use of single-use plastics and reusing as much as possible, we help protect the animals that depend on Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and the ocean around the world! What will you do to help reduce marine debris? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
a Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network member preparing to assist an entangled humpback whale
Sep. 13, 2017: Carried on ocean currents, fishing debris can travel across the globe and entangle marine life like humpback whales. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary leads the Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network, which coordinates large whale entanglement responses around Hawai‘i. Here, a network member works to remove nearly 800 feet of cable from a whale off Maui. Learn more about this (successful!) disentanglement. (Photo: NOAA, under MMHSRP Permit #18786)
a person using pliers to remove a fishing hook from a sea turtle on the beach
Sep. 12, 2017: This turtle Tuesday, we’re celebrating the disentanglement of sea turtles like this one! Derelict fishing gear, rubber bands, balloon string, and other kinds of marine debris can wrap around marine life. Learn how you can help prevent entanglement. (Photo: NOAA)
two people on the beach with trash bags collecting marine debris
Sep. 11, 2017: Our ocean is filled with items that don’t belong there, from plastic garbage, to aluminum cans, to derelict fishing gear. This week, we’re teaming up with NOAA Marine Debris to bring you information about marine debris, how it affects you and the ocean, and even better -- how you can prevent it. By working together, like these two volunteers in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, we can help make the ocean a cleaner, better place. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
aerial view of the Presque Isle Lighthouse
Sep. 10, 2017: Take a trip to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals earned this section of Lake Huron the name "Shipwreck Alley," so lighthouses like the Presque Isle Lighthouse were key to keeping vessels safe. The lighthouse was built in 1870 and rises 113 feet above the lake. Today, the grounds and keeper's house are open to the public from May through October, and the tower is open daily for climbing during the summer months. (Photo: NOAA and Brian Taggart/Oceans Unmanned) NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research
humpback whale
Sep. 9, 2017: Every winter, thousands of humpback whales make their way to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. In the warm waters surrounding Hawai‘i, these whales mate, calve, and nurse their young. In the sanctuary, mothers can be seen breaching alongside their calves, while males can be seen competing with one another for females in fierce head-to-head battles. Learn more about the sanctuary at hawaiihumpbackwhale.noaa.gov! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #14097)
sunset at schooner culch state beach
Sep. 8, 2017: Take in this beautiful sunset at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary! Here, waves crash at Schooner Gulch State Beach. What are your favorite ocean places? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
Pink coralline algae dominates the atoll's fringing reef, giving the reef a rosy hue
Sep. 7, 2017: What makes Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa rosy? Coralline algae! Pink coralline algae dominates the atoll's fringing reef, giving the reef a rosy hue. What else can you spot in this photo? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
a great shearwater feeding on the water surface
Sep. 6, 2017: Snack time! A great shearwater chows down on a meal near NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Massachusetts. Sanctuary scientists study these birds to understand the overall health of the local ecosystem. (Photo: Peter Flood)
bat star
Sep. 5, 2017: Nananananananana bat star! Sadly, the bat star is not actually a masked superhero. But it DOES sometimes have as many as nine arms, and is found in many of our national marine sanctuaries! NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary advisory board member Tony Knight spotted this one while on a dive at Anacapa Island. Have you spotted bat stars in the sanctuary? (Photo: Tony Knight)
humpback whale feeding
Sep. 4, 2017: Today is National Wildlife Day! National marine sanctuaries all across the nation protect the habitats that marine species need to survive and thrive. Here, a humpback whale gulps down a meal in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This California sanctuary is sometimes known as the "Serengeti of the Sea" for the incredible variety of marine life it protects. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
flapjack octopust on the ocean bottom
Sep. 3, 2017: The cuteness of this flapjack octopus might just crepe up on you! Researchers onboard the E/V Nautilus were suckers for this adorable cephalopod. A deep-sea species, it was spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's Bodega Canyon. Throughout the summer, we've teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore West Coast national marine sanctuaries, and you can watch live at nautiluslive.org! Researchers are currently investigating NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
hawaiian monk seal on the beach
Sep. 2, 2017: The Hawaiian monk seal may have colonized the Hawaiian Islands millions of years ago, but today this seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with only about 1400 remaining in the wild. Most Hawaiian monk seals now live in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, but some live in the main Hawaiian Islands, including in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Young Hawaiian monk seals like this one sometimes become entangled in plastic debris and derelict fishing nets and can drown -- so one of the best things you can do to help these endangered seals is to reduce the amount of single-use plastic you utilize and to participate in a beach cleanup near you! (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
kid preparing a fishing rod
Sep. 1, 2017: Many national marine sanctuaries provide opportunities for people to enjoy responsible sportfishing and experience the marine environment. From National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in New England, these ocean parks are hotspots for recreational anglers eager to test their mettle. And even if the fish aren't biting, time spent on the water or shoreline with family and friends can bring you a lifetime of memories. (Photo: Isabel Gaoteote/NOAA)
kelpfish among coral
Aug. 31, 2017: "Ahem, excuse me, are you aware that today is the last day of the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest?" This kelpfish in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary knows what's up! This photograph was an entry to last year's "Sanctuary Life" category. (Photo: Patrick Smith)
whale shark swimming
Aug. 30, 2017: Happy Whale Shark Day! Whale sharks, the largest fish on the planet, are summer visitors to NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. These highly migratory sharks can grow to about 30 feet in length and feed on tiny plankton. Each whale shark has a unique pattern of spots -- just like your fingerprint! (Photo: Ryan Eckert/NOAA)
sea otter and cub swimming
Aug. 29, 2017: You otter know -- there are just three days left to submit your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! These otterly adorable sea otters were photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and were submitted by Douglas Croft to last year's contest. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
baby green sea turtles swimming
Aug. 28, 2017: Take off into your week like these baby green sea turtles in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, this monument provides safe haven for little sea turtles just starting out their lives. More than 90 percent of all Hawaiian green sea turtles come from nests on East Island, an 11-acre island within Papahānaumokuākea. (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
backpackers walk along Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park
Aug. 27, 2017: Looking for a place to adventure in these last few weeks of summer? Check out your national marine sanctuaries! Here, backpackers walk along Shi Shi Beach in Olympic National Park, overlooking Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Learn about recreational opportunities in sanctuaries. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
nurse shark
Aug. 26, 2017: This nurse shark in NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary wants to remind you that there are only a few days left to submit your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! This photo was an entry by Steve Miller into last year's "Sanctuary Life" category. You can get the details on this year's contest. (Photo: Steve Miller)
California mantis shrimp
Aug. 25, 2017: Did this shrimp get into a fight with a highlighter? No -- this is actually a California mantis shrimp, distinguished by its bright yellow and blue markings. Mantis shrimp can strike their prey incredibly quickly, more than 50 times faster than the blink of an eye! This one was spotted in the deep waters of NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
Ochre star
Aug. 24, 2017: Star light, star bright, first...ochre star I see tonight? Ochre stars are found in many of your West Coast national marine sanctuaries. This one was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California. These relatively large sea stars can come in all sorts of colors, including yellow, orange, brown, red, and purple. Have you spotted them while tidepooling? (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
deep sea octopus
Aug. 23, 2017: Check out this deep sea octopus spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's Bodega Canyon! We've teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the deep waters of West Coast national marine sanctuaries this summer, and researchers never know exactly what they're going to find. Currently, they're exploring NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, and you can watch the dives live in real time! Tune in at nautiluslive.org. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
shoreline view of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
Aug. 22, 2017: Feeling like it's a long week already? Take a deep breath and enjoy this shoreline view of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. This beautiful sanctuary protects more than 13,500 square miles of coral reefs and open ocean waters -- an area bigger than the state of Maryland. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
scorpionfish with its mouth wide open
Aug. 21, 2017: "Whaaaaat? There's a solar eclipse today???" We may be noticing the eclipse up here on land, but in the ocean, sunlight doesn't penetrate deeper than about 200 meters. This scorpionfish was spotted in the deep waters of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary by researchers aboard the E/V Nautilus. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
humpback whale calf jumping out of the water
Aug. 20, 2017: Are you having fun this weekend? Not as much fun as this humpback whale calf! This little one, the child of a whale named Spoon, was spotted cavorting in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. "Little" is relative, though: at birth, humpback whales weigh around 1,500 pounds, about as much as a full-grown dairy cow! (Photo: Laura Howes)
close up on two laysan ducks at sunset
Aug. 19, 2017: There's no better time to get your ducks in a row and submit your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! This photo of Laysan ducks was an entry by Andrew Sullivan-Haskins to last year's contest. Laysan ducks are the world's most endangered duck, and are found only in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins)
whale breaching
Aug. 18, 2017: A whale of a breach! Weighing 40 tons doesn't stop humpback whales from being incredibly acrobatic. Each winter, more than 10,000 humpback whales journey to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to mate, calve, and raise their young. While in Hawai‘i, they fast, not eating until they return north for the summer. These graceful whales are a blast to watch, but make sure to always give them plenty of space! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #14682)
a ruby brittle star snags a few gametes from a spawning coral
Aug. 17, 2017: Every August, the reef-building corals of NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on a fantastic spawning display -- one of the most abundant spawning displays in the entire Caribbean. Each coral species times its gamete (egg and sperm) release for maximum benefit, ensuring genetic mixing and that coral larvae can disperse over large distances. Here, a ruby brittle star snags a few gametes before they can get away! Learn more about coral spawning in the sanctuary. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
whale breaching
Aug. 16, 2017: Lunch time! Seasonal upwelling brings huge groups of krill to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. And when there's a krill, there's a way -- or rather, a whale! Here, a humpback whale opens wide to scoop up a tasty meal. (Photo: Douglas Croft/Monterey Bay Marine Life Studies, under NMSF Permit #20519)
man holding an adolescent loggerhead turtle before release back into the ocean
Aug. 15, 2017: Turtle recovery: on a recent research expedition, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management give a lift to some rehabilitated turtles. Here, Monitor archaeologist Joe Hoyt holds Coletta, an adolescent loggerhead, before she was released back into the wild. Many thanks to the NC Wildlife Resources Commission for rehabbing sea turtles like this one! (Photo: Will Sassorossi/NOAA)
live-bottom reef cover with marine life and a fish swimming over
Aug. 14, 2017: Did you know the seafloor off the coast of Georgia looks like this? This is Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, a 22-square-mile sanctuary that protects a natural "live-bottom" reef. The reef attracts more than 200 species of fish, including sheepshead like this one, and is a popular fishing destination. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
two hawaiin spinner dolphins swimming together
Aug. 13, 2017: Traveling with porpoise: two Hawaiian spinner dolphins swim through the waters at Pearl and Hermes Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Hawaiian spinner dolphins exhibit a "fission-fusion society," where they fuse into large pods of hundreds as they move offshore at night to feed, then split into smaller groups to rest and socialize during the day. The tranquil, remote waters of the monument are the perfect place for these charismatic dolphins to rest and feed! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
man standing on a paddleboard at sunset
Aug. 12, 2017: It's Get Into Your Sanctuary Day! How are you celebrating? Here, Jeff Gray, superintendent of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, enjoys an early-morning paddle. (Photo: Jeff Gray/NOAA)
school of blustripe grunt fish swimming
Aug. 11, 2017: Every Friday is Fish Friday in NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Bluestripe grunt and other fish abound here at Snapper Ledge. How many can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Daryl Duda)
spiny dogfish patrolling the seafloor
Aug. 10, 2017: Remotely operated vehicles help scientists get a close-up view of rarely seen deep-sea animals. In August 2011, researchers spotted this spiny dogfish patrolling the seafloor in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! Spiny dogfish can live up to 70 years, and tend not to mature until they around about 25 years old. (Photo: NOAA)
humpback whale
Aug. 9, 2017: Happy hump day! This humpback whale was spotted near NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, off the coast of Massachusetts -- one of the world's premiere whale watching destinations. Each summer, humpbacks and other whales journey here to feed in the sanctuary's rich waters! (Photo: Peter Flood)
diver swimming over a coral reef
Aug. 8, 2017: Talofa from National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Talofa means hello in Samoan. This sanctuary protects more than 13,000 square miles of waters around the islands of American Samoa, including beautiful and diverse coral reefs like this one. Here, a researcher observes the reef as part of a yearly survey project. (Photo: NOAA)
kayaks on the beach and the sunsetting in the background
Aug. 7, 2017: Looking to paddle off into the sunset? Join us this Saturday, August 12 for Get Into Your Sanctuary day! All around the country, your national marine sanctuaries will be holding events to help you enjoy these ocean and Great Lakes treasures. Find an event near you! (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary)
diver looking over a shipwreck, a kelp forest can be seen in the background
Aug. 6, 2017: This shipwreck Sunday, explore the wreck of Winfield Scott! This sidewheel steamer sank in 1853 in what is now NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Today, the vessel serves as an artificial reef, harboring invertebrate and fish communities within the kelp forest. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
two people on the deck of boat wearing gumby suites
Aug. 5, 2017: Having fun this weekend? These researchers in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are testing out their "gumby suits" before heading out to sea. Gumby suits, or survival suits, are designed to keep people safe and warm in the event of a capsized or sinking vessel. Safety drills help researchers and crew be prepared in the case of emergency -- plus, you have to admit the suits are pretty fashionable. (Photo: Karen Grimmer/NOAA)
a mola mola (sunfish) near the santa barbara island
Aug. 4, 2017: The magnificent mola mola! The mola mola, or ocean sunfish, is the largest bony fish in the ocean. This one was spotted in south of Santa Barbara Island in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary by researchers aboard the E/V Nautilus. We've teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the deep habitats of West Coast national marine sanctuaries -- and you can watch in real time! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
a rocky habitat teaming with marine life
Aug. 3, 2017: Dive into an undersea rainbow at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! The rocky habitat of Cordell Bank provides a home to colorful and abundant invertebrates, algae, and fishes. What can you spot here? (Photo: Clinton Bauder/BAUE)
sea lion swimming underwater
Aug. 2, 2017: Whoosh! Can you hear the bubbles as this sea lion whizzes past in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary? Found throughout West Coast national marine sanctuaries, sea lions like this one are graceful and acrobatic swimmers. They use this speed and maneuverability to catch an assortment of small fish and squid! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
researcher preparing to tag a humpback whale
Aug. 1, 2017: Here's a whaley great way to spend your work day: whale research! Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was designated to protect humpback whales and their habitat in Hawai‘i. A key part of that is science: research and long-term monitoring help scientists understand whales' habitat requirements, population size, threats, and other important topics. Here, a researcher prepares to lower a camera into the water to view a humpback whale. (Photo: S. Eldridge/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240)
two paddleboarders on the water
Jul. 31, 2017: What better way to enjoy your national marine sanctuaries than atop a paddleboard? Here, paddleboarders explore National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Learn about the many ways to explore your sanctuaries! (Photo: Ropate Delana/NOAA)
a shiver (group) of leopard sharks swimming
Jul. 30, 2017: What do you call a group of sharks? A shiver! Here, a shiver of leopard sharks swims in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Leopard sharks live in shallow waters of bays and estuaries and spend much of their time near the sea floor, feeding on animals like crabs, clams, and small fish. (Photo: Adam Obaza/NOAA)
a tiger shark swimming
Jul. 29, 2017: Shark Week continues with this tiger shark in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Tiger sharks are typically solitary and nomadic, often traveling up to 50 miles a day. In the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands of Papahānaumokuākea, tiger sharks are one of the main predators of albatrosses, waiting in the shallows for fledgelings who haven't gotten the hang of flight yet. (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
porbeagle shark breaching
Jul. 28, 2017: Wave hello to the porbeagle shark! This fintastic shark was spotted near NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Porbeagle sharks undertake seasonal migrations, coming closer inshore during the summer and spending winters in deeper offshore waters. (Photo: Peter Flood)
white shark swimming
Jul. 27, 2017: The nutrient-rich waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provide sustenance for major populations of top ocean predators -- including white sharks like this one. Each fall, adult and sub-adult white sharks visit the sanctuary in areas where elephant seals and sea lions are abundant. Feeding on these pinnipeds helps white sharks store up energy for their annual migration across the Pacific. Learn more about white sharks in the sanctuary. (Photo: Steven K. Webster/Monterey Bay Aquarium)
filetail catshark at the bottom of sur canyon
Jul. 26, 2017: Just a wee little shark! This filetail catshark was spotted at a depth of 470 meters in Sur Canyon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Like cats, filetail catsharks have light-sensitive eyes. This helps them hunt for fish and squid in the dark waters of the deep sea. (Photo: Kevin L. Stierhoff/NOAA)
shark swimming by a diver
Jul. 25, 2017: Though sharks may seem scary or dangerous, most are extremely unlikely to even approach humans. Whitetip reef sharks, for example, tend to swim away when swimmers or divers approach. Here, a diver quietly observes a whitetip reef shark at French Frigate Shoals in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
fish swimming by a sanbar shark
Jul. 24, 2017: Shark Week continues with this sandbar shark in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! In the Western Atlantic, these sharks range from New England to Brazil, where they hunt for fish, octopus, squid, and other prey. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
bluntnose sixgill shark
Jul. 23, 2017: Have you heard? It's Shark Week! This curious bluntnose sixgill shark was spotted by researchers aboard the E/V Nautilus in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. These sharks can reach up to 16 feet in length and can be found in the deep waters of many of your national marine sanctuaries. What's your favorite sanctuary shark? (Photo: OET/NOAA)
divers and fish swimming around the wreck of uss schurz
Jul. 22, 2017: When a ship sinks beneath the waves, it gives new life, supporting marine organisms like fish and invertebrates. Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and NCCOS divers investigate the wreck of the USS Schurz, which sank during World War I off the coast of North Carolina. Large numbers of amberjack and schools of baitfish can sometimes make it difficult for researchers to see! Learn more about the shipwrecks off North Carolina's coast at monitor.noaa.gov/shipwrecks. (Photo: NOAA)
seaweed blenny
Jul. 21, 2017: It's Fish Friday! Help us out by captioning this photo of a seaweed blenny in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
angelfish
Jul. 20, 2017: This angelfish wants YOU to submit your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! This photo is one of last year's entries, taken by Daryl Duda in NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Daryl Duda)
brittle star climbs on a octocoral
Jul. 19, 2017: Dive in to the deep waters of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Here, a brittle star climbs on a octocoral. Check out the incredible things researchers discovered in the sanctuary's deep waters! (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)
paddleboarder
Jul. 18, 2017: National marine sanctuaries are perfect places to adventure, relax, and more -- like this paddleboarder in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite activity to do in your sanctuaries? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
whale tail
Jul. 17, 2017: A whale of a tail! Every humpback whale has a unique pattern on the underside of its flukes, or tail. This pattern is like a fingerprint, enabling researchers and whale watchers to identify individual whales. This one was spotted near the popular feeding grounds of NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Peter Flood)
people walking on the beach at olympic coast
Jul. 16, 2017: Happy anniversary to NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! This coastal treasure protects more than 3,000 square miles of marine waters off the rugged Olympic Peninsula. Here, you'll find 48 miles of wilderness beaches, waiting for you to explore the rocky shoreline's tidepools and seastacks. Plus, during annual migrations, more than a million birds travel along the coast. Offshore, orcas, gray whales, sea otters, harbor seals, sea lions, and more feed in some of the most productive habitats in the world. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
barracuda swimming
Jul. 15, 2017: Oooh, barracuda! This month, researchers from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science are conducting surveys and biological assessments of shipwrecks off the North Carolina coast. Fish like this barracuda tend to congregate around shipwrecks, so the researchers are seeking to better understand how fish communities use North Carolina shipwrecks. (Photo: NOAA)
diver looking at a wreck
Jul. 14, 2017: Where can you find one of the best-preserved collections of historic shipwrecks in the nation? Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This sanctuary in the Great Lakes is the resting place of at least 100 shipwrecks, many of which are accessible by divers, snorkelers, and paddlers. What are you waiting for? Dive in! (Photo: NOAA)
fish resting on the seafloor
Jul. 13, 2017: Don't be so down, little lingcod! This spring, a team of scientists explored the deep seafloor of NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The scientists used a remotely operated vehicle, or ROV, to document deep sea coral and sponge habitats. South of Santa Cruz Island at roughly 100 meters depth, they spotted this lingcod hanging out with crinoids and anemones! Learn more about the expedition. (Photo: Marine Applied Research and Exploration - MARE)
white tern chick
Jul. 12, 2017: This stern little floof is none other than a white tern chick! Also known as fairy terns, or manu-o-kū in Hawaiian, these small birds breed throughout Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. They're one of the 22 species of seabirds that breed and nest in the monument! Unlike most other seabirds, adult white terns don't build a nest; instead, they find a suitable spot on a tree branch, rock ledge, or other surface and lay their egg there. (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
Flamingo tongue snail
Jul. 11, 2017: Flamingo tongue snails at NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are fashion icons. They wore leopard print before it was trendy! The patterns themselves aren't actually on the snail's shell. Instead, the snail covers its white shell with a live tissue, which bears its distinctive color and markings. (Photo: Paige Gill/NOAA)
childern swimming in american samoa
Jul. 10, 2017: You're invited! On August 12th, we'll be holding a nation-wide "Get Into Your Sanctuary" celebration. Find an event near you. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA, taken in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa)
A ruby brittle star crawls across the extended polyps of mountainous star coral
Jul. 9, 2017: Sea Star Sunday! A ruby brittle star crawls across the extended polyps of mountainous star coral at night in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite kind of sea star? (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
people playing on the beach and and the water
Jul. 8, 2017: Heading to the beach for the weekend? Make sure to pack your trash out! Garbage can threaten the health of marine wildlife. Plus, this beach in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary wouldn't be nearly as gorgeous if it were covered in trash! By working together and caring for these special places, we can protect them for the future. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
view of a hiking trail and a hiker's boots
Jul. 7, 2017: Looking for a coastal adventure? Hikes, kayak trips, and more await you in your national marine sanctuaries. Where will your journeys take you next? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA, taken in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary)
risso's dolphin calf leaping from the water
Jul. 6, 2017: What a fintastic jump! This playful Risso's dolphin calf was spotted leaping through the air in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Risso's dolphins tend to be found over deep water, where they hunt for squid and other animals that migrate to the ocean surface at night. Oddly, these dolphins lack teeth in their upper jaw, instead using two to seven pairs of peg-like teeth in their lower jaw to capture prey! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
person making a heart symbol with their hands allow the coast
Jul. 5, 2017: Show your love for your national marine sanctuaries by entering our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! (Photo: Aaron Carpenter, taken in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary)
whale tail out of the water
Jul. 4, 2017: Happy Independence Day! This humpback whale is Hancock. She gets her name from John Hancock, one of the signers of the Declaration of Independence. If you look at her upper-right fluke, you can see script-like "writing" reminiscent of Hancock's signature! Recently, Hancock was tagged during the first week of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary-led whale tagging mission, which will help the sanctuary track its whale population. (Photo: NOAA, under NOAA Fisheries Permit #18059)
a Hawaiian monk seal pup investigates a large piece of plastic on the beach
Jul. 3, 2017: At the beach for the Fourth of July? Make sure to pack out your trash! Plastic debris has a long, long lifespan and can float a long way from where it starts, endangering marine life. Here, a Hawaiian monk seal pup investigates a large piece of plastic on Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The islands within the monument are uninhabited, but tons of trash washes up on their beaches each year, posing a threat to the animals that live there. Help them out and make sure to properly dispose of your trash! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
a noaa diver using a diver diver propulsion vehicle, or scooter
Jul. 2, 2017: Vroom! A NOAA diver in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary explores the wreck of Duncan City using a diver propulsion vehicle, or scooter. Scooters like these help archaeologists and divers cover more ground when investigating shipwreck sites and other areas. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
humpback whale and calf swimming
Jul. 1, 2017: Have a whale of a weekend! This humpback whale and calf were photographed in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. More than 10,000 humpback whales use Hawai‘i's waters as their principle wintering ground. Here, humpback whales breed, calve, and raise their young! (Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15240)
garibaldi
Jun. 30, 2017: Calling all photographers! Have you been waiting for your moment to shine? Submit your sanctuary photos to the 2017 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest! The contest opens tomorrow, July 1st. (Photo: garibaldi in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary; credit: Stuart Halewood)
diver exploring a reef
Jun. 29, 2017: Dive into an undersea rainbow in Fagatele Bay! This beautiful coral reef is located within National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Here in Fagatele Bay, you'll find at least 271 species of fishes, 168 species of coral, and at least 1,400 species of algae and invertebrates -- all in 0.25 square mile! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
scorpionfish hiding among a coral reef with an invasive cup coral
Jun. 28, 2017: Quick, find the spotted scorpionfish! These fish are masters of disguise at NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Much easier to find in this photo, however, is the invasive orange cup coral. This species from the Indo-Pacific crowds out native corals. Learn about the sanctuary's efforts to monitor and remove this invasive species. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA).
whale breaching
Jun. 27, 2017: Whale hello there! This lovely humpback whale is Nile, a frequent visitor to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. She's been coming to the feeding grounds in and around the sanctuary every year since 1987. Her Nile's friendly, curious personality makes her one of the favorites among whale watchers. (Photo: Richard Dolan)
two spotted black oystercatchers on the beach
Jun. 26, 2017: Have you spotted black oystercatchers when visiting your West Coast national marine sanctuaries? Oystercatchers often are heard before they are seen. Their loud whistling wheep-wheep is shrill and carries above the sound of the surf. At low tide, these large shorebirds can be spotted foraging for mussels and other shellfish. These two were photographed in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Beach Watch/NOAA)
dolphin swimming in the water
Jun. 25, 2017: Visiting NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary? The Dolphin SMART program helps protect wild dolphins by encouraging responsible viewing of marine mammals. By giving dolphins plenty of space, you can help dolphins in the Keys thrive! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
octopus displaying its camouflage skills by blending into the coral reef
Jun. 24, 2017: We close out Cephalopod Week with this lovely day octopus (he‘e mauli) in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! While many species of octopus hunt at night, day octopuses are active during daylight hours. Their incredible camouflage skills help them blend in with the coral reef so that prey never spot them coming! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
benthic octopus
Jun. 23, 2017: Did you know some octopuses are denizens of the deep sea? This benthic octopus (Benthoctopus sp.) was spotted at a depth of 1461 meters (4793 feet!) at Davidson Seamount in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI))
octopus canging color to match its surounding
Jun. 22, 2017: How can an octopus be so colorful? Many cephalopods have special cells in their skin tissue called chromatophores, which enable them to change color rapidly. A part of their neuromuscular system, these cells receive signals from the environment than an octopus can use to inform color change. Chromatophores can help octopodes like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary blend in with their surroundings or flash a warning to predators! (Photo: NURC/UNCW/NOAA)
stubby squid on the seafloor
Jun. 21, 2017: What better way to celebrate Cephalopod Week than with a stubby squid? Last year, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the deep ocean in and around NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and spotted this little googly-eyed cephalopod! Though they look like a cross between an octopus and a squid, stubby squid are actually closely related to cuttlefish. They spend their lives on the seafloor, coating themselves in a mucus jacket and burrowing into the sediment. Leaving just those big eyes peeking above the surface, they remain buried until prey items like shrimp or small fish -- or a curious ROV -- pass by. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
strawberry anemones
Jun. 20, 2017: Summer is a great time to enjoy all things strawberry — including strawberry anemones! At Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, these inch-wide anemones carpet the sea floor. They use their tentacles to capture food and to defend themselves. As plentiful as they are, we doubt they'd taste great in a strawberry shortcake. (Photo: NOAA)
Joe Hoyt examines the wreck of the German U-boat U-576 from inside a two-person submersible
Jun. 19, 2017: Submersibles and other technology help scientists get up close to historical and biological artifacts! Here, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary maritime archaeologist Joe Hoyt examines the wreck of the German U-boat U-576 from inside a two-person submersible. Last summer, Joe and other archaeologists explored the remains of this World War II convoy battlefield. (Photo: Robert Carmichael/Project Baseline, Battle of the Atlantic Expedition)
seaweed blennies watching over eggs
Jun. 18, 2017: Happy Father's Day from your National Marine Sanctuary System! The animal kingdom is filled with exemplary father figures — the seaweed blennies at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary are no exception! Female blennies deposit their eggs in the nooks and crannies of the reef. Then, males keep an eye on the eggs until they hatch! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
whale head breaching
Jun. 17, 2017: Heads up! Krill is thick in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and the humpback whales are there to take advantage. These acrobatic whales travel thousands of miles each year to feed on krill and fish in sanctuary waters. The sanctuary is a perfect spot for whale watching, but make sure to always give whales plenty of space! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
two california spiny lobsters next to each other
Jun. 16, 2017: The California spiny lobsters at NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are ready for the weekend! You can find these creatures from central California down to Baja California. Unlike other lobster species, these spiny lobsters lack claws. Instead, they have two long, sensitive antennae! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
a masked booby squaking while on top of a green sea turtle on the beach
Jun. 15, 2017: This masked booby wants you to know: it's Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument's 11th anniversary! The monument protects over 580,000 square miles within and around the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Within its waters, you'll find more than 7,000 marine species, including the threatened green turtle, pictured here. Plus, 14 million seabirds representing 22 species visit each year to breed and nest. (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
leatherback turtle swimming at the surface
Jun. 14, 2017: The endangered leatherback is the largest turtle -- and one of the largest living reptiles -- in the world. Adult leatherbacks can weigh up to 2,000 pounds and be 6.5 feet in length! Unlike all other species of sea turtle, leatherbacks lack a hard bony shell. Instead, their shell is about 1.5 inches thick and consists of leathery connective tissue overlaying loosely interlocking bones. This one was spotted in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Mark Cotter)
researcher holding a green sea turtle hatchling in hand
Jun. 13, 2017: What's Sea Turtle Week without a wee one? Here, a researcher holds a green sea turtle hatchling at French Frigate Shoals in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Over 90 percent of the Hawaiian population of threatened green turtles travel to French Frigate Shoals for safe nesting. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
loggerhead sea turtle resting on a sandy bottom
Jun. 12, 2017: It's Sea Turtle Week! This loggerhead sea turtle was spotted in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Loggerheads get their names for their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
two California sea lions swimming together
Jun. 11, 2017: California sea lions relax and breed on land at NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, but what do they do underwater? They eat! Beneath the waves, sea lions chow down on fish, squid, and octopus. If you're lucky enough to observe sea lions while diving or paddling, remember to give them plenty of space! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
a juvenile long-tailed jaeger in flight
Jun. 10, 2017: Take flight into the weekend like this juvenile long-tailed jaeger in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! These graceful seabirds are spotted rarely in the sanctuary, which they pass through during their spring and fall migrations. (Photo: Peter Flood)
people aboard a zodiac attempting to remove marine debris from a humpback whale
Jun. 9, 2017: Getting around as a humpback whale can be tiring — especially when entangled in marine debris. At Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the Hawaiian Islands Entanglement Response Network has freed more than 23 whales from 10,000 feet of debris and fishing gear. This March the network worked for two days to free a whale from nearly 800 feet of cable. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA MMHSRP permit #18786)
white-sided dolphin jumping out of the water
Jun. 8, 2017: Jump for joy -- it's World Oceans Day! The ocean provides the air we breathe and much of the food we eat, regulates our climate, and is a hub for transportation and recreation. Plus, it provides habitat to many amazing animals and other organisms, like this Pacific white-sided dolphin in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Why are you thankful for the ocean? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
diver swimming over the wreck of the montana
Jun. 7, 2017: What's the only freshwater national marine sanctuary? Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Located in Lake Huron, this sanctuary protects a historic -- and incredibly well-preserved -- collection of shipwrecks. Here, a diver explores the wreck of Montana, a wooden steam barge that caught fire and burned to the water's edge in 1914. Now, more than a century later, Montana's engine, boiler, shaft, and propeller remain in place and the wreck is a popular dive site. (Photo: NOAA)
two puffins standing next to each other
Jun. 6, 2017: Say hello to the tufted puffin of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! These comical and lovable birds are skilled divers, "flying" underwater with their wings. A tufted puffin can hold up to a dozen fish in its bill to carry back to its chicks! (Photo: Mary Sue Brancato/NOAA)
loggerhead sea turtle swimming
Jun. 5, 2017: On World Environment Day, don't forget the world beneath the waves! Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest live-bottom reefs of the southeastern United States. What's a live-bottom reef? It's one where the rocky seafloor is blanketed with marine invertebrates. This reef provides foraging and resting grounds for loggerhead sea turtles, like this one here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
mollusk swimming
Jun. 4, 2017: What's a seamount? Seamounts are mountains on the ocean floor that don't reach sea level, generally formed from extinct volcanoes. Davidson Seamount at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is 7,480 feet tall — yet its summit is still 4,101 feet below the sea surface! This "oasis in the deep" is home to several unidentified deep-sea organisms, like this mollusk. Learn more about Davidson Seamount. (Photo: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI))
whale breaching
Jun. 3, 2017: Have a whale of a weekend! This is Salt, the "grand dame" of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. She was first spotted in Massachusetts Bay in the 1970s, and has been seen in the sanctuary just about every year since then. She has had 14 calves and many grandchildren, and at least one great-grandcalf! Salt was one of the first northern humpback whales to be recognized at Silver Bank off the coast of the Dominican Republic, providing proof of the humpback whale migratory route in the North Atlantic -- which in turn has helped us better protect humpback whale populations through "sister sanctuary" relationships.
students use magnifying glasses to examine salt crystals left on the grass
Jun. 2, 2017: NOAA's B-WET program funds experiential learning for K-12 students in their local watersheds. In California, B-WET projects connect students to the watershed, the ocean, and West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Here, two third-graders participating in the B-WET project Green By Nature "students use magnifying glasses to examine salt crystals left on the grass "by brackish waters at the Martinez shoreline. Green By Nature reaches out to underserved and under-resourced communities to encourage participation in scientific and environmental stewardship activities and to help foster environmental leadership. (Photo: Phyllis White-Ayanruoh/ Girl Scouts of Northern California)
a mola mola or sunfish near the surface of the water
Jun. 1, 2017: What's the biggest bony fish in the sea? The mola mola, or ocean sunfish! This one was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Mola molas spend time basking on their sides near the surface, with their pectoral fins flapping in the air. Have you spotted one while visiting your sanctuaries? (Photo: Maps for Good/NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS)
jellyfish swimming
May 31, 2017: Dive in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and sometimes you'll be treated to the beautiful view of an Atlantic sea nettle. (Just don't get too close -- those tentacles sting!) Sea jellies like these are classified as cnidarians, a group of animals that also include corals and sea anemones. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
ship crew preparing a net to put in the water
May 30, 2017: How do researchers track ecosystem health in our West Coast national marine sanctuaries? With regular surveys! The ACCESS Partnership supports marine wildlife conservation and healthy marine ecosystems by conducting regular ocean research. This May, ACCESS cruises were conducted throughout Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to collect data on whale and seabird distribution and crab pot densities. Here, researchers pull in a hoop net that contains samples of krill and other organisms. Learn more about the expedition. (Photo: Karen Grimmer/NOAA/ACCESS/Point Blue)
diver examines a shipwreck
May 29, 2017: Happy Memorial Day! Today we celebrate those men and women who have bravely given their lives for our nation. A recent research expedition to Midway Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument commemorated the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway and honored the legacy of the brave men who helped turn the tide in the Pacific during the battle. Scientists explored sunken aircraft associated with the battle, adding an important maritime heritage component to our understanding of the broader history of World War II in the Pacific. They also investigated the role shipwrecks and debris may play in harboring invasive species in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Here, diver Brian Hauk sets an invasive species quadrat on the stern of the USS Macaw. (Image courtesy of Brett Seymour, Exploring the Sunken Heritage of Midway Atoll expedition)
hermit crab
May 28, 2017: Feeling starry-eyed? So is this hermit crab in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary! The star-eyed hermit crab has pupils that look like starbursts upon close inspection. This hermit is well-camouflaged beneath various forms of algae. (Photo: NOAA)
a rowing crew practicing in a longboat
May 27, 2017: This month, we celebrate Asian/Pacific American Heritage Month! In National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, fa'a Samoa -- or the Samoan way of life -- is the cultural context for all sanctuary activities and functions. Fa'a Samoa places great importance on the dignity and achievements of the group rather than individuals. Here, a group from the island of Ta'u practices for the annual Flag Day fautasi (longboat) regatta. (Photo: Apulu Veronika Molio'o Mata'utia Mortenson/NOAA)
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A diver documents a structure
May 26, 2017: We teamed up with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research to explore sunken aircraft in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument for the 75th anniversary of the Battle of Midway! Frozen in time, these aircraft allow researchers to unfold the story of World War II in the Pacific. Not only do these underwater wrecks unlock the past, but they serve as marine habitat for present-day organisms -- and potentially for invasive species that can alter local ecosystems. Working with maritime archaeologists, biologists with the team investigated whether human-made objects were providing a habitat in which invasive organisms have a competitive edge over native species. Here, a diver documents a structure for any alien invasive species. (Photo: Brett Seymour, Exploring the Sunken Heritage of Midway Atoll expedition)
snorkeler attaching a line to a mooring buoy
May 25, 2017: It's Safe Boating Week! If you're boating, fishing, or diving in NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary or other sanctuaries, mooring buoys provide an alternative to anchoring that won't damage the reef. Here, a member of the Florida Keys Buoy Team maintains one of the sanctuary's more than 490 mooring buoys. Learn more about mooring buoys in the sanctuary -- including how to use them. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
coral reef with a school of fish swimming over it
May 24, 2017: Happy anniversary to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Located six miles off the coast of Northern California, this offshore sanctuary protects extremely productive -- and colorful! -- ecosystems. The annual upwelling of nutrient-rich deep ocean water supports the sanctuary's rich biological community, like the orange hydroids and strawberry anemones pictured here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
sea turtle resting on the ocean bottom
May 23, 2017: It's World Turtle Day! Five species of sea turtle can be found in the waters of NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Can you name this one? Learn more about turtles in the sanctuary. (Photo: Daryl Duda)
marine invertebrates covering a shipwreck
May 22, 2017: What happens to a shipwreck when it rests on the ocean floor? It gets overrun by marine invertebrates, like this wreck in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Sponges and anemones start out as small, free-floating larvae. These larvae float around until they sense a good habitat — including old shipwrecks! Once they settle, they grow into bottom-dwelling creatures that form the backbone of amazing biodiverse communities. (Photo: Deborah Marx/NOAA)
two orcas breaching together
May 21, 2017: In recent weeks, orcas have gathered in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to hunt gray whale calves that are migrating north with their mothers. Orcas form tight-knit families, called pods, that are matriarchal. Here Emma, the matriarch of one transient orca pod, porpoises toward a meal with one of her daughters. Monterey Bay is a great place to see whales in action -- just always be sure to give them plenty of space! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
bald eagle soaring towards the camera
May 20, 2017: We close Bird Week with the most patriotic of all the sanctuary birds: the bald eagle! This one was spotted in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. What’s your favorite bird fact? (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
a green heron sits perched on a limb of a mangrove
May 19, 2017: One of the simple joys we can all enjoy in national marine sanctuaries is birdwatching! No matter your age, skill, or location on land or sea, we can all enjoy some pretty incredible birding experiences in sanctuaries. In Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, mangrove-fringed islands provide nesting grounds for a number of bird species. Plus, juvenile fish among the mangrove roots give these birds plenty of food to snack on. Here, a scruffy young green heron sits perched on a limb within the sanctuary. What do you think this young bird is pondering? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
a pair of black-footed albatrosses looking at each othter on the beach, more can be seen resting on the beach in the background
May 18, 2017: Every year, albatrosses like this pair of black-footed albatrosses in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument travel miles and miles -- some ending up in West Coast sanctuaries like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! As they make their journey from breeding to feeding grounds, they forage for fish at the ocean's surface. But with plastics littering our sea, many albatrosses wind up ingesting bits of plastic rather than fish -- and may even regurgitate some of that plastic to feed their young. The Winged Ambassadors curriculum helps teach students how to track albatross migration and how we can all help reduce marine debris. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
two california brown pelicans among the rocks, one has its mouth wide open
May 17, 2017: California brown pelicans are permanent residents of the Pacific Coast, with their full range extending all the way from Canada to Mexico! These seafood fans follow fish species that migrate along the California current. Our West Coast national marine sanctuaries help provide healthy habitats for brown pelicans as they move throughout their range. (Photo: Peter Pearsall/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)
western gull tending to her hatching chicks
May 16, 2017: This spring, Channel Islands Naturalist Corps volunteer Tara Brown spotted this western gull tending to her hatching chicks. Tara says, watching “the birth and trials of new life is an incredible experience. The Channel Islands are like no place else on Earth. Where else can seabirds lay nests on the ground without predators? Where else can seals and sea lions have a few months of peace to raise their vulnerable young?” Sanctuaries like NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary provide crucial refuge to seabirds and other animals, and we're grateful to our volunteers who help protect them. (Photo: Tara Brown)
a fork-tailed storm petrels in flight over the water
May 15, 2017: Ruffle them feathers, it's Bird Week! And what better place to go to birdwatch than your national marine sanctuaries? As offshore dwellers, fork-tailed storm petrels like this one are not typically seen in the near-shore areas of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. But recent high winds blew them into the bay, where bird lovers were excited to see them! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
a laysan duck with her brood
May 14, 2017: Happy Mother's Day! Here, a Laysan duck waddles with her brood in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Laysan ducks are one of four endangered endemic bird species at Papahānaumokuākea, and practice female-only parental care! (Photo: Naomi Worcester/Hawaii DLNR (Department of Land and Natural Resources))
researcher david wiley holding a seabird aboard a ship
May 13, 2017: Happy International Migratory Bird Day! When you think of national marine sanctuaries, perhaps you think of whales, fish, or other underwater species -- but these special places also protect birds! National marine sanctuaries provide critical habitat and refuge for many different bird species. In turn, birds help scientists track the health of sanctuary ecosystems. In NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, researchers are tracking the activity of seabirds like this great shearwater held by Dr. David Wiley, research coordinator for the sanctuary. By tracking seabirds, researchers can indirectly assess forage fish stocks in sanctuary waters. Seabirds are much easier to spot than small forage fish, allowing the team to more easily assess fish populations that feed all kinds of animals within the sanctuary. (Photo: Anne-Marie Runfola/NOAA)
person standing on a rock on the beach taking a photo of the sunset with cannonball island in the back ground
May 12, 2017: Looking for a place to take the perfect photo? National marine sanctuaries are a photographer's dream! Here, a photographer takes in the sunset at NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Thank you all for celebrating the natural beauty and wonder of your national marine sanctuaries with us this National Travel & Tourism Week. We can't wait to see where your next visit to sanctuaries takes you! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
northern elephant seal resting
May 11, 2017: Are you a nature nerd? National marine sanctuaries offer extraordinary opportunities to observe marine animals like this northern elephant seal resting in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! You can help care for these species by keeping your distance, refraining from feeding them, and helping remove trash from their environment. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
wreck of the uss monitor resting on the ocean floor
May 10, 2017: What better way to celebrate National Travel and Tourism Week than by exploring your national marine sanctuaries? Our nation's first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the wreck of the USS Monitor, which curious technical divers can explore with a free research permit. The sanctuary is also considering an expansion to protect many of the wrecks in the "Graveyard of the Atlantic" off the Outer Banks of North Carolina. It’s an ideal destination for history buffs and enthusiastic divers! Learn more at: http://monitor.noaa.gov/shipwrecks/ (Photo: NOAA)
women standing in the water flyfishing
May 9, 2017: Fancy fishing? Sanctuaries like NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are perfect places to go to enjoy recreational fishing and other activities. Reefs, seagrass beds, and mangrove-hugged islands support important fish habitat, and provide visitors with unmatched experiences. The sanctuary works with anglers to ensure fishing activities don't harm sanctuary resources, and anglers help sanctuary managers keep an eye on changes to the marine environment. Learn more about fishing in your national marine sanctuaries. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
man paddleboarding in the ocean
May 8, 2017: Looking for that perfect getaway location? Look no farther than Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Whether you love water sports, wildlife watching, beach bumming, or simply taking in some incredible views, the sanctuary has something for you. Here, a paddle boarder enjoys a sunset ride through the surf. What's your favorite activity in the blue? Share with us in the comments! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
view of cannonball island from the beach
May 7, 2017: Itching to get out this weekend, but don't want to get wet? You don't have to be a diver to enjoy a national marine sanctuary! Landlubbers visiting NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary can hike along beachside cliffs, enjoy marine life from the shore, and spot nearshore islands like Cannonball Island. Do you have any favorite lookout points in your marine sanctuaries? Let us know in the comments! (Photo: Robert Steelquist/NOAA)
pom pom anemone and a black gill rockfish
May 6, 2017: Pretty in pink: this pom pom anemone and blackgill rockfish were spotted in the depths of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Fascinating, colorful species like these live throughout the sanctuary's waters. In fact, Greater Farallones protects one of the most diverse and bountiful marine environments in the world! (Photo: NOAA)
a humpback whale fully breaching the water with its body
May 5, 2017: Woohoo! It's Friday, and we're jumping for joy like this humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Despite weighing up to 40 tons, humpback whales are rather acrobatic creatures. Every April through October, visitors flock to Massachusetts Bay and Stellwagen Bank to watch these incredible marine mammals in action. What's your favorite whale watching destination? (Photo: Peter Flood)
group of people surround a boat covered in marine debris they collect from the water
May 3, 2017: Over the past six years, NOAA staff and partners have removed 100,000 pounds of marine debris from Midway and Kure atolls in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. These intrepid clean-up crews have devoted their time to taking on debris like this 1,200-pound derelict net conglomerate, and we're incredibly grateful for their work. Tons of trash makes its way to these uninhabited islands each year, carried by ocean currents. Want to help? Join a cleanup near you! (Photo: NOAA)
green moray eel peaking its head out of its hiding place, an artificial reef
May 2, 2017: We can't conc-eel our excitement about this moray eel in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! This green moray rev-eeled its hiding place on the wreck of USNS Gen. Hoyt S Vandenberg, an artificial reef within the sanctuary. Green morays are masters of the surr-eel: their skin is actually a dull shade of brown, but they secrete a yellowish layer of mucus that makes them look green. This mucus layer helps ward off predators! (Photo: Patrick Vandenabeele/NOAA)
northern elephant seal on the beach scraching its chin
May 1, 2017: "Hm....should I bother going for a swim today?" Each winter and spring, Northern elephant seals visit beaches throughout Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to breed and molt. Though they can seem docile while snoozing on the beach, if you get too close, you put the animals -- and yourself-- at risk! By keeping your distance, you help keep animals like elephant seals healthy. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
a green sea turtle rests on the beach
Apr. 30, 2017: It’s the weekend! Take it easy like this green sea turtle, or honu, in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Though green sea turtles spend much of their life offshore, they can often be spotted sunning themselves on sanctuary beaches. If you see a sea turtle on the beach, make sure to give it plenty of space! Learn how you can help care for wildlife when you visit sanctuaries. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
coral reef
Apr. 29, 2017: Happy anniversary to the breathtaking National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Established in 1986, American Samoa was once the smallest sanctuary in the sanctuaries system. But since its establishment, the sanctuary has expanded to protect some 13,581 square miles of nearshore coral reef and offshore ocean habitats reaching across the Samoan Archipelago. American Samoa is thought to harbor the greatest diversity of marine life in the santuary system, protecting many fish, invertebrates, and marine mammals. Here, early morning light scatters down from the surface at Fagatele Bay, highlighting just a few of the curious and tropical creatures the sanctuary at American Samoa holds. (Photo: NOAA/NMSF)
volunteers removing trash from the beach
Apr. 28, 2017: Throughout the year, volunteers play a huge role in keeping your national marine sanctuaries healthy and vibrant. In 2016 alone, our volunteers contributed over 137,000 hours across the National Marine Sanctuary System, which is equivalent to 68 full-time federal employees! This National Volunteer Week, we thank the many passionate volunteers that help keep our ocean and Great Lakes healthy. Learn more about how YOU can volunteer with sanctuaries. (Photo: Janis Burger, taken in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary)
pyramid butterflyfish swimming on a deep reef
Apr. 27, 2017: Located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument protects astounding biodiversity. The coral reefs within the monument are home to over 7,000 species, one quarter of which are found only in the Hawaiian Archipelago! Here, pyramid butterflyfish swim on a deep reef at French Frigate Shoals. What other organisms can you spot? (Greg McFall/NOAA)
a student examines a water sample
Apr. 26, 2017: It's National Environmental Education Week! Your national marine sanctuaries are a living classroom, a perfect opportunity to explore the marine environment. Here, a student examines a water sample after a plankton tow in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about educational opportunities and resources in sanctuaries. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
whale tail breaching the water's surface
Apr. 25, 2017: Whale hello there! It's National Volunteer Week, and we're celebrating the many volunteers who dedicate themselves to helping national marine sanctuaries flourish. In Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, volunteers gather on weekends throughout the winter to track of the many humpback whales that visit Hawai‘i each year. With their help, sanctuary managers can better understand how the whales use nearshore areas, and can help promote safe whale watching practices. Learn more about the Sanctuary Ocean Count. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15240)
Laysan albatross with chick
Apr. 24, 2017: What do Hawai‘i's Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and California's Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary have in common? Albatrosses! 14 million seabirds representing 22 species -- including Laysan albatross, pictured here -- breed and nest in Papahānaumokuākea. Then, these birds take flight and head to the West Coast to forage for food, visiting sanctuaries like Cordell Bank. This week, we're celebrating National Environmental Education Week, and through the Winged Ambassadors educational program, students can learn about these amazing birds' connection to the ocean. Learn more here: (Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS)
coral reef in the florida keys
Apr. 23, 2017: Here's some trivia: where is the third-largest coral barrier reef system in the world? If you guessed NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, you're right! Coral reefs like this one buffer shorelines from wave action, storms, and erosion, and protect wetlands and harbors. They support tourist economies and provide fish for us to eat and potential new medicines to heal us. It's up to us to protect them for the future! Find out how you and your community can help protect these amazing places. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
seascape view of american samoa from one of the islands
Apr. 22, 2017: Happy Earth Day! Your National Marine Sanctuary System protects beautiful views and vibrant ecosystems like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. What are you doing today to celebrate and protect our Earth? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
trunkfish
Apr. 21, 2017: Kiss the weekend hello like this smooth trunkfish! These spotted beauties can be seen on the reef at NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
sunfish
Apr. 20, 2017: All eyes on you! The mola mola, or ocean sunfish, is the biggest bony fish in the ocean. They can grow up to 10 feet in length and weigh nearly 5,000 pounds! These ocean giants eat jellyfish, and can often be spotted basking on the ocean surface. This one was spotted in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Stuart Halewood)
sea otter playing with a discarded plastic basket in monterey bay
Apr. 19, 2017: Cute or concerning? Here, an adorable sea otter plays with a discarded plastic basket in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Sanctuary visitor Douglas Croft, who took this photo, says that "It was quite humorous to watch her play with it and carry it around, but if this 'toy' had had a hole in it and her head got stuck, it could have been a death sentence." Plastic debris finds its way into the ocean far too often, and can harm the health of ecosystems and beloved sea creatures. We can all do our part to protect animals like sea otters by picking up trash on the beach and near our homes farther inland! Opting to use reusable products also goes a long way toward keeping our ocean and waterways clean. What will you do to help clean up marine debris? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Douglas Croft)
two humpback whales breaching
Apr. 18, 2017: Each summer, humpback whales flock to NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Cod to feed on a small fish called sand lance. Here's a photo of Freckles and her calf that sanctuary visitor Laura Howes snapped in 2014! Learn about whale watching in the sanctuary. (Photo: Laura Howes)
bat star on the sea floor
Apr. 17, 2017: Bananananananana BAT STAR! In honor of Bat Appreciation Day today, we bring you the colorful bat of the sea -- the bat star! Found in several of your national marine sanctuaries, bat stars may not be quite like the famed superhero Batman, but they do play an important ecological role. Bat stars help clean dead organisms and algae from the seafloor. What other "bats" of the sea can you think of? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Dwayne Meadows/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary)
yellow zoanthid
Apr. 16, 2017: Check out these yellow zoanthids! Zoanthids are invertebrates related to reef-building corals and sea anemones. These were spotted colonizing the base of a dead golden octocoral in the deep waters of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! (Photo courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)
northern elephant seal poping its head out of the water
Apr. 15, 2017: Fancy meeting you here! This northern elephant seal pops its head up from the water to say hello in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Located off the coast of California, the sanctuary is home to five species of pinnipeds (seals and sea lions), including northern elephant seals, northern fur seals, harbor seals, and California and Steller sea lions! (Photo: Peter Pyle/NOAA)
people removing fishing line from the water
Apr. 14, 2017: 100,000 pounds -- that's how much garbage has been removed from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument over the past six years! Every year, NOAA staff, working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and the State of Hawai'i and other partners, travel to the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands to remove tons of marine debris that accumulates there. Though the islands are remote and uninhabited, ocean currents and weather bring debris like fishing gear and plastic trash to their shores. There, it poses a threat to animals like Hawaiian monk seals, green sea turtles, and seabirds, which can become entangled or consume pieces of plastic. The 100,000-pound mountain of debris that has been collected over the past six years was recently shipped from Midway Atoll to Honolulu, where it will be processed through the Nets to Energy Program to produce electricity! Many thanks to all of our partners who have contributed to making Papahānaumokuākea a safer, healthier place for its inhabitants. (Photo: NOAA
kelpfish hiding in a coral reef
Apr. 13, 2017: Can you spy the sneaky crevice kelpfish here in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary? (Hint: it's more obvious than it might seem!) (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
harp seal resting on the beach
Apr. 12, 2017: Ready to sprawl out on the beach this season? You're in good company! This harp seal is hauled out on the beach at Race Point, near NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. If you see any seals or sea lions on your beach trips this spring and summer, be sure to give them plenty of space. While it may seem harmless to snap a quick seal selfie while you're on the beach with our animal friends, approaching wild animals can cause significant harm to both you and them. Keep your eye out and help keep animals healthy by giving them plenty of room. They deserve relaxing days on the beach too! (Photo: Peter Flood)
greeneye fish resting on the ocean bottom
Apr. 11, 2017: This greeneye fish flashed its puppydog eyes at the camera during a recent research expedition in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. You can check out the rest of what the researchers found. (Photo courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)
wreck of the german u-boat u-701
Apr. 10, 2017: Monitor National Marine Sanctuary currently protects the wreck of the Civil-War-era ironclad USS Monitor, and last year the sanctuary proposed an expansion. An expanded sanctuary would protect a nationally-significant collection of shipwrecks that currently has little or no legal protection, including one of America's only World War II battlefields. This wreck, U-701, is one that could be protected. A German U-boat, U-701 has a special place in United States history as it was the first U-boat sunk by the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II's Battle of the Atlantic. Today, it sits partially buried on a sandy bottom in 110 feet of water. Learn more about U-701. (Photo: Steve Sellers/NOAA)
closeup view of soft coral atop a yellow sponge
Apr. 9, 2017: Tiny and bright, soft corals sit atop a yellow sponge in this reef scene at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Invertebrates like these blanket Gray's Reef, covering many of the rocky ledges that can be found within the sanctuary. This abundance of invertebrates identifies Gray's Reef as a "live-bottom" reef: the hard, rocky seafloor supports a wide variety of invertebrate life -- including sponges, sea squirts, barnacles, worms, and more! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
common dolphin jumping into the air
Apr. 8, 2017: Known for their incredible energy and acrobatic skills, common dolphins are one of many marine mammal species that call Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary home. Spending much of their time in large social groups, common dolphins can be spotted in groups of more than 100 individuals within the sanctuary. Learn more about marine mammals in Monterey Bay. (Photo: Douglas Croft/MarineLifeStudies.org, under NOAA permit #20519)
large sandstone orbs along the shore of bowling ball beach
Apr. 7, 2017: Craving those scenic coastal views? Plan a summer visit to a sanctuary near you! Bowling Ball Beach at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, seen here, offers visitors captivating scenery. Exposed during low tide, large sandstone orbs called concretions have earned Bowling Ball Beach its name. Learn more about visiting your national marine sanctuaries at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
snorkeler swimming over the remains of the schooner american union
Apr. 6, 2017: Located off the coast of Michigan in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects nearly 100 historic shipwrecks. With some wrecks dating back to the 1800s, the sanctuary plays a unique role in preserving the maritime heritage resources of the United States. Here, a snorkeler explores the wreck of the schooner American Union. Larger than other schooners at the time, American Union ran up on the rocks at Thompson's Harbor on May 6th, 1894, and quickly broke apart. Scattered segments of the ship are now easily visible to snorkelers and kayakers visiting the sanctuary. (Photo: Tane Casserly/NOAA)
a humpback whale fully breaching the water's surface
Apr. 5, 2017: Talk about acrobatics! Here, a humpback whale breaches in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales can weigh 40 tons, so clearing the water like this is an impressive feat! (Photo: A. Debich/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240)
loggerhead turtle swimming
Apr. 4, 2017: It's turtle Tuesday! This loggerhead sea turtle was spotted in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Loggerheads' powerful jaws enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey, such as whelks and conch. Adults can reach up to 250 pounds! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)
diver face to face with a sea lion
Apr. 3, 2017: Why hello there! A diver comes face-to-face with a curious sea lion in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. While it's important to always give sea lions and other marine mammals plenty of space, these gregarious pinnipeds will often approach divers. Help us out with a caption for this photo! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
diver swimming over a colony of strawberry anemones
Apr. 2, 2017: Deep beneath the waves off the coast of Central California lies the technicolor marvel of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Surrounded by soft sediments of the continental shelf seafloor, Cordell Bank emerges with a rocky habitat, providing home to colorful and abundant invertebrates, algae, and fishes. Here, a research diver pauses behind a colony of strawberry anemones and other invertebrates. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
laughing gull soaring in the air
Apr. 1, 2017: It's April Fools' Day! And your national marine sanctuaries are rife with laughter...er, seabird calls. This beautiful laughing gull soars above the water near Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Laughing gulls are aptly named, as they have a call that sounds much like loud and boisterous laughter. What other birds have you heard calling in sanctuaries? (Photo: Peter Flood)
Ophidiid fish
Mar. 31, 2017: The deep sea holds strange and wonderful creatures. While diving with a remotely operated vehicle off Salmon Bank in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research came across this Ophidiid fish, or cusk eel! (Photo: NOAA)
photomosaic of a shipwreck in lake michigan
Mar. 30, 2017: The deadline is fast approaching! We've proposed a new national marine sanctuary in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan and we want to hear your thoughts. The proposed sanctuary would protect 37 historic shipwrecks -- like the schooner Home, shown in photomosaic here -- and related underwater cultural resources. The sanctuary would also enhance heritage tourism within the many coastal communities that have embraced their centuries-long maritime relationship with the Great Lakes. The deadline for public comment on this proposed sanctuary is tomorrow, March 31, so don't delay! Learn more about the proposal and how to weigh. (Photo: Wisconsin Historical Society)
overhead view of shipwreacks at mallows bay
Mar. 29, 2017: From our nation's very start, the Potomac River has been intimately tied to our history. We've proposed a national marine sanctuary in Mallows Bay on the Potomac River -- and there are just a few days left to comment on the proposal! The sanctuary would protect the area's diverse collection of nearly 200 known shipwrecks, including the World War I "Ghost Fleet." Learn about the proposed sanctuary and how you can submit your comments through March 31, 2017. (Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University)
giant green anemones among the rocks of a tidepoll
Mar. 28, 2017: There's a whole world to discover in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary tidepools! These are giant green anemones, which can often be spotted in the rocky tidepools lining the sanctuary. Their brilliant green color comes from symbiotic algae that live within their tissues! (Photo: Shawn Sheltren/NPS)
two northern elephant seal pups play-fight on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
Mar. 27, 2017: She said what?? Here, two northern elephant seal pups play-fight on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Though they can be fun to watch, it's crucial that you give these animals plenty of space -- it's safer for both you and them. To safely view elephant seals, watch quietly from a distance of at least 100 feet, and use binoculars if you want a closer look. If a seal becomes alert or agitated and begins to move away, you are too close! (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
two divers checking a mooring buoy in the florida keys national marine sanctuary
Mar. 26, 2017: Conservation in action: here, the buoy team checks in on a mooring buoy in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Mooring buoys have been used in the Florida Keys since 1981 as an alternative to anchoring, which can break and damage the coral reef. There are more than 490 mooring buoys in the sanctuary, so the buoy team stays hard at work maintaining them. Learn more: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue/wk96-fknms-buoys.html. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
seal lion swimming through a kelp forest
Mar. 25, 2017: Well excuse me, I'm swimming here! Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary visitor Patrick Smith spotted this sea lion swimming through the kelp forest off Santa Barbara Island with an attitude. These playful, acrobatic swimmers are often spotted in the Channel Islands and in other West Coast national marine sanctuaries. (Photo: Patrick Smith)
blacktip reef shark swims through the reef at Rose Atoll
Mar. 24, 2017: A blacktip reef shark (Carcharhinus melanopterus) swims through the reef at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. These small sharks can often be spotted in shallow reefs like this one, where they hunt reef fish. Photo: Kevin Lino/NOAA
sea otters raft together in Elkhorn Slough
Mar. 23, 2017: The grass is always greener! March marks Seagrass Awareness Month, a time to recognize the importance of healthy seagrass beds in maintaining our ocean's health. In places like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, eelgrass -- a type of seagrass -- provides a primary food source for a variety of marine animals, and protection for others. In addition, seagrasses can help filter pollutants out of the water and prevent erosion, keeping the water column healthy and clear. Here, otters raft together in Elkhorn Slough, a tidal salt marsh in Monterey Bay, where they provide a critical service to eelgrass beds. Otters help protect these precious grasses by munching on predators like crabs that would otherwise threaten eelgrass beds. What will you do to make like an otter and protect seagrasses? (Photo: Becky Stamksi/NOAA)
diver swimming over a shipwreck
Mar. 22, 2017: Just a few days left to tell us what you think about the sanctuary we've proposed in Wisconsin's Lake Michigan! The proposed 1,075-square-mile Wisconsin – Lake Michigan national marine sanctuary would protect 37 shipwrecks and related underwater cultural resources that possess exceptional historic, archaeological, and recreational value. We're asking the public to comment on the proposal through March 31, 2017. Learn more -- including how you can comment online and by mail -- at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin. (Photo: Tamara Thomsen/Wisconsin Historical Society)
a garibaldi swimming near rocks covered in urchins
Mar. 21, 2017: Today is the International Day of Forests, and did you know there are forests within the ocean? Kelp forests, like those in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, provide habitat and food for many marine species, like this garibaldi. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
view of a sunset over the potomac river from a kayak
Mar. 20, 2017: We've proposed a new national marine sanctuary and we want to hear from you! Mallows Bay is located on the Potomac River and a sanctuary there would protect a diverse collection of historic shipwrecks, as well as archaeological artifacts dating back 12,000 years. We're asking the public to comment on this proposal through March 31, 2017. Learn more about the proposal -- including how you can comment online and by mail -- at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/mallows-bay. (Photo: Kim Hernandez/Maryland Department of Natural Resources)
two shirmp on a coral reef
Mar. 19, 2017: Who're you calling a shrimp? More than 50 species of shrimp can be found in the coral cap region of NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Can you name this species? (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
sea star attached to a piece of kelp rising up from the bottom of the sea
Mar. 18, 2017: Beyond the surf crashing on the shores of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where the ebb and flow of ocean currents bathe shallow reefs, you'll find dense kelp forests. These beautiful and biologically productive habitats provide shelter and sustenance to creatures of all sizes and types, from sea stars like this one to sea otters and sea lions. (Photo: NOAA)
green moray eel swimming popping out of a coral reef
Mar. 17, 2017: Happy St. Patrick's Day from this green moray eel in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Green moray eels are actually brownish, but they don green in celebration of holidays -- or, rather, to protect themselves from parasites and disease. That is, these eels secrete a yellowish mucus that covers their skin, giving them a greenish tinge. (Photo: Steve Miller)
a diver looking at the bow of the wreck of the lucinda van valkenburg
Mar. 16, 2017: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! Here, a diver explores the wreck the wooden three-masted schooner Lucinda Van Valkenburg. Bound for Chicago with a load of coal on May 31, 1887, Van Valkenburg was struck by the iron propeller Lehigh about 2 miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island in Lake Huron. The crew was rescued by Lehigh, but the vessel was lost. Today, it rests 60 feet down within Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where it can be explored by curious divers. (Photo: NOAA)
an octopus resting on the seafloor near rose atoll
Mar. 15, 2017: Check out this amazing octopus the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research spotted while exploring the deep waters of Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Octopuses have special pigment-containing cells called chromatophores that enable them to change color and blend in with their environment. Luckily, the crew of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer have keen eyes and were able to catch sight of this one when they were exploring using a remotely operated vehicle! (Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)
a small and large sea urchin next to each other on a rock
Mar. 14, 2017: Happy pi day! Unlike us, echinoderms like sea urchins have what is known as radial symmetry -- meaning they're symmetrical around a center point, like a pie. These purple and red sea urchins were observed in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
a jellyfish with many small fish and a shrimp swimming around it
Mar. 13, 2017: The tiniest of traveling companions: Here, a small school of fish (and even a tiny shrimp!) hitch a ride through the blue with a jellyfish in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Some juvenile fish can live amidst a jelly's tentacles without being harmed. In doing so, they gain protection from predators and the opportunity to feed on the jelly's leftovers. Plus, they gain a new buddy to swim with! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
a manta ray swimming above while small fish clean the ray
Mar. 12, 2017: Spa day for the manta ray! Here, small cleaner wrasse clean parasites and dead tissue from a manta ray in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Talk about a powerful exfoliator! By chowing down on parasites, cleaner wrasse provide rays and other fish an important service, protecting them from disease and keeping them healthy for years to come. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)
a whigte-sided dolphin breaching the water's surface
Mar. 11, 2017: Splash into the weekend like this Pacific white-sided dolphin in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Pacific white-sided dolphins are incredible swimmers, and are often spotted within the waters of California sanctuaries. (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA)
a balck and yellow rockfish coming out from a hiding spot in a rocky area in channel islands national marine sanctuary
Mar. 10, 2017: Whatchu lookin' at? This black and yellow rockfish (or Sebastes chrysomelas) glances skeptically at the camera in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Found in rocky areas along the Pacific Coast, black and yellow rockfish are one of many fish species that can be spotted in the sanctuary. Share some of your favorite sanctuary fish with us in the comments on this fine Fish Friday! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
painting of the battle of the uss monitor and the css virginia
Mar. 9, 2017: On this day in 1862, the USS Monitor -- the Union's first ironclad warship -- steamed out to battle the confederate ironclad CSS Virginia. In what is now known as the Battle of Hampton Roads, the ships fought for hours, many cannonballs bouncing off the ships' enforced iron sides even when the two were touching. Ending in a draw, this battle marked the first engagement of two iron ships in American history and would forever change American warfare. Following the Battle of Hampton Roads, wooden war ships were gradually phased out and iron ships began to dominate fleets. Today, the USS Monitor lays at rest in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Interested in learning more? Read about the battle at monitor.noaa.gov/150th/hampton.html or take a visit to The Mariner's Museum in Newport News, Virginia! (Image: Currier and Ives, courtesy of The Library of Congress)
diver holding a clipboard swimming among fish in the flower garden banks national marine sanctuary
Mar. 8, 2017: Today is International Women's Day, and we're celebrating some of the amazing women working in national marine sanctuaries. Here, Dr. Michelle Johnston, research ecologist at NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, dives through sanctuary waters amongst hundreds of fish and other sea critters! Michelle manages the sanctuary's long-term coral monitoring project and helps fight the spread of invasive lionfish in the sanctuary. Interested in pursuing marine science yourself? Check out the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, which supports independent graduate-level research -- particularly by female and minority students -- in ocean-related sciences. (Photo: John Embesi/NOAA)
laysan albatrosse resting on the beach next to a hawaiian monk seal
Mar. 7, 2017: Hawaiian monk seal: master of the photobomb! The low-lying atolls and islands within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument serve as critical habitat for many marine species. More than 14 million seabirds representing 22 species -- including Laysan albatrosses like the one pictured here -- breed and nest within the monument. Most of the 1,400 remaining Hawaiian monk seals live within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, as well. Learn more about the monument's incredible ecosystems and species: www.papahanaumokuakea.gov (Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS)
three hawaiian spinner dolhins in close proximity skimming the surface of the water
Mar. 6, 2017: It's Dolphin Awareness Month! Hawaiian spinner dolphins like these are often spotted in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. These gregarious dolphins feed offshore at night and return to Hawai'i's nearshore waters to rest and recuperate during the day. Though it may be tempting to get close to and interact with spinner dolphins, this can actually be quite stressful for them! Research has shown that frequent interaction with swimmers and boaters in their habitat can negatively affect spinner dolphins' health. If you're whale watching, snorkeling, or diving in Hawai'i, programs like Dolphin SMART can help you choose a tour operator that is helping to minimize disturbance of these amazing animals so they can continue to thrive: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/dolphinsmart (Photo: NOAA, taken under NOAA permit #14097)
wreck of the american union resting in 10 feet of water
Mar. 5, 2017: Take a deep breath this Shipwreck Sunday and explore the wrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Thanks to the cold, fresh water of Lake Huron, the sanctuary protects one of our nation's best-preserved collections of shipwrecks. American Union, pictured here, was a three-masted schooner that sank in 1894 after running up on the rocks at Thompson's Harbor. This is one wreck you don't have to be a diver to explore: resting only 10 feet beneath the surface, American Union's remains are easily viewable by kayakers and snorkelers. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
a sea star gripping the side of a rock in a tidepool
Mar. 4, 2017: Happy sea star Saturday! Tidepools like this one dot the beaches of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The plants and animals living within tidepools are alternately covered and abandoned by the shifting tides, so these organisms have evolved to cope with extreme physical, chemical, and biological changes. Sea stars, for example, use suction from tiny tube feet on each arm to grip onto the rocks, while sea anemones pull in their tentacles when the tide goes out to help prevent water loss. When you're exploring tidepools, make sure to step lightly and touch gently in order to protect these tidepool inhabitants! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
inavasive seaweed growing for the bottom of the sea
Mar. 3, 2017: Not just any seaweed -- this is Undaria pinnatifida, also known as Asian kelp or wakame. This invasive species has colonized many harbors along the California coastline, including in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Undaria was first observed in Monterey harbor in 2001, and has continued to spread. Sanctuary scientists are working to remove this invasive species and to understand how its encroachment could affect the local ecosystem. Learn more about invasive species at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
a close up view of an orange cup coral
Mar. 2, 2017: This orange cup coral may be beautiful, but it's an invasive species in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This Indo-Pacific hard coral has established itself throughout the tropical western Atlantic, Caribbean, and Gulf of Mexico. Scientists believe it may have made the journey attached to ship hulls or within ship ballast water. Orange cup coral displaces native corals and sponges, taking up space in which native species would normally establish themselves. Also, because these corals reproduce at a young age and larvae may float on the current for up to 14 days before settling, they are able to spread far and wide. In Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, sanctuary staff have worked to remove orange cup coral from the reef to keep it from getting too established. (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)
two nudibranches crawling over an invasive bryozoan watersipora subtorquata
Mar. 1, 2017: Watersipora Wednesday! Here two opalescent nudibranchs crawl over the invasive bryozoan Watersipora subtorquata in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Watersipora, the rust-colored, lobed mass pictured here, is an invasive genus of bryozoan -- or aquatic filter feeding invertebrates -- that has taken up residence in and around the sanctuary. Though there's still much to learn about how these organisms grow and thrive, Watersipora are thought to have been introduced to the California coast by hitching a ride on ships and boats traveling along the coastline. These bryozoans have proven difficult to control because research shows they can be resistant to antifouling paints commonly used to prevent attachment of aquatic organisms to the hulls of ships. Once settled in a new environment, Watersipora can have damaging effects on native invertebrate species, smothering them and outcompeting them for space. But researchers at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary have been working hard to understand how these organisms grow and thrive, and what ecological consequences we can anticipate from their spread. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
European green crabs
Feb. 28, 2017: The Crustacean Invasion: European green crabs are native to western Europe and northwest Africa, but have invaded ecosystems in every continent but Antarctica. Because they disperse over long distances during their larval stage and aren't exactly picky eaters (these crabs will eat clams, shrimp, and other invertebrates!), European green crabs are quite successful at invading new territories. Where they establish new populations, these crabs threaten shellfish fisheries and ecosystem health. For reasons not yet well known, European green crabs have been particularly successful in Seadrift Lagoon, a manmade lagoon near San Francisco that is tidally linked to Bolinas Lagoon. There, they've established the largest West Coast concentration in a closed marine ecosystem! But folks at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are hard at work removing these invasive crabs. Since 2009, teams have worked to remove tens of thousands of crabs from the lagoon, and their work continues. (Photo: Kate Bimrose/NOAA)
Caught invasive lionfish
Feb. 27, 2017: It's Invasive Species Week! This week, we'll be bringing you stories about the invasive species that are found in your national marine sanctuaries and how you can help. In recent years, Indo-Pacific lionfish have been found in coral reefs throughout the southeast Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean -- including in sanctuaries like Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Because of their voracious appetites, rapid reproduction rate, and lack of natural predators, these invasive lionfish post a serious threat to coral reefs, with potential long-term consequences for native fish communities, habitats, and entire ecosystems. You can learn more about this invasive species at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/lionfish. (Photo: Ryan Eckert/NOAA)
Jelly fish spotted while exploring the deep waters in and around National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa
Feb. 26, 2017: Check out this jelly that the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research spotted while exploring the deep waters in and around National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! Throughout February, the crew of the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer is exploring this area using remotely operated vehicles. And the best part? You can watch in real time while they explore! Okeanos livestreams all of its dives online and you can tune in while the ROVs are in the water. Learn more, including how to watch, at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/news/feb17/
exploring-the-deep-waters-american-samoa.html
. (Photo courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)
Graceful Galapagos sharks (manō in Hawaiian) are a fairly common sight in the waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument
Feb. 25, 2017: Check out this fintastic Galapagos shark! Graceful Galapagos sharks (manō in Hawaiian) are a fairly common sight in the waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This species normally occurs in deeper coastal waters, but can be found in shallow near-shore reefs in the monument where food is abundant. This one was spotted at Maro Reef in the monument. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
A seaweed blenny fish in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
Feb. 24, 2017: Celebrate fish Friday with this seaweed blenny in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary! This small fish can be found from New York to northern South America. Although it is omnivorous, it primarily eats filamentous algae, and often perches on shallow, hard bottoms covered with algae. What's your favorite sanctuary fish? Let us know in the comments! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
National Marine Sanctuaries are spectacular places to dive and snorkel
Feb. 23, 2017: From the vibrant coral reefs of NOAA Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to the historic shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, your national marine sanctuaries are spectacular places to dive and snorkel! What's your favorite sanctuary to dive in? Tell us in the comments! Learn more about the wonders that await you underwater in sanctuaries at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/diving. (Photo: Jessica Hogan)
a Laysan albatross taking care of her chick
Feb. 22, 2017: A little Wednesday Wisdom: Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, is a mother again! Approximately 66 years old, Wisdom returns each year to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Her chick hatched approximately two months after she was first spotted incubating an egg at the same nesting site she and her mate, Akeakamai, use each year. Congratulations, Wisdom! (Photo: Naomi Blinick/USFWS)
an elephant seal lies on the beach while a bird walk in front of it
Feb. 21, 2017: Ever feel like the world is passing you by? It's okay to take a break, like this northern elephant seal in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Each winter, thousands of northern elephant seals migrate to California beaches to breed. These seals need plenty of rest and plenty of space -- when watching them, always stay back at least 100 feet and use binoculars if you want a closer look! Learn more about how you can safely observe these seals. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
wreck of the uss monitor sitting on the seafloor
Feb. 20, 2017: Happy Presidents Day from your national marine sanctuaries! Our first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the wreck of the USS Monitor, pictured here. During the Civil War, the idea of the USS Monitor was born amidst a nation in turmoil. After discovering the Confederate Navy was constructing an impenetrable ironclad in Hampton Roads, Va., President Lincoln called for a naval board to propose construction of an ironclad vessel to lead the Union Navy. The president visited the ironclad -- which has been called "Lincoln's secret weapon" -- after it was constructed, on July 9, 1862. (Photo: NOAA)
the coral know as big mama and a diver swimming near by
Feb. 19, 2017: This is Big Momma, one of the largest corals in the world! Located in the Valley of the Giants in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, this giant Porites coral has a circumference of 134 feet, stands 21 feet tall, and is more than 500 years old. Learn more about the amazing marine life within this sanctuary. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
the coral know as big mama and a diver swimming near by
Feb. 18, 2017: Happy World Whale Day from the humpback whales of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: NOAA, under NOAA permit #14097)
overhead view of a gray whale breaching
Feb. 17, 2017: The gorgeous gray and white mottling you see here belong to none other than the gray whale! Gray whales like this individual pass through a number of national marine sanctuaries, including Channel Islands, Olympic Coast and Monterey Bay as they make their way to summer feeding grounds in the Arctic. Seasoned travelers, gray whales make one of the longest migrations of any mammal, traveling about 10,000 miles every year! Traveling through heavily populated regions along the West Coast, gray whales are at risk of boat collisions or entangelement in fishing gear. If you see an entangled whale, you can help out by reporting the entanglement and by giving these graceful animals plenty of space. (Photo: NOAA)
close up view of a dolphin skimming the surface of the water
Feb. 16, 2017: Did you know dolphins are actually toothed whales? All whales are generally divided into two groups, baleen whales and toothed whales, with the latter category including dolphins and porpoises. Common dolphins like this one can be spotted in several national marine sanctuaries, including Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where this one was photographed. What's your favorite kind of dolphin? Tell us in the comments! (Photo: Laura Howes)
an orca fin breaching the surface of the water
Feb. 15, 2017: Fins up! Southern resident orcas like this one can often be spotted in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The world population of orcas consists of specialized subpopulations, each adapted to live off the resources in the area they call home. "Resident" orcas, for example, are fish-eaters, while "transient" populations eat marine mammals. Southern residents like this one prefer to eat salmon. Learn more about orcas. (Photo: NOAA)
a Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle cuddle up on the beach
Feb. 14, 2017: Happy Valentine's Day from your National Marine Sanctuary System! Here, a Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle cuddle up in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
whales swimming together underwater
Feb. 14, 2017: Whale you be my valentine? Each winter, some 10,000 humpback whales travel to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to find mates, calve, and nurse their young. Mothers can be seen breaching alongside their calves and males can be seen competing with one another for females in fierce head-to-head battles. Learn more about humpback whales in the sanctuary. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA permit #774-1714)
a whale breaching the surface with its mouth open
Feb. 13, 2017: Welcome to Whale Week! This week we'll be bringing you photos and information about the whales that call national marine sanctuaries home. This is Salt, one of the most famous humpback whales in the world today. She was first spotted in Massachusetts Bay in the 1970s, and has been seen in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary just about every year since then. She was one of the first northern humpback whales to be recognized at breeding grounds at Silver Bank off the coast of the Dominican Republic, providing proof of the humpback whale migratory route in the North Atlantic. She has had 14 calves and many grandchildren -- and in 2014, she became a great-grandmother! Salt appears to be a leader among her peers, often diving and resurfacing before others when in a group of feeding whales. (Photo: Laura Howes)
seabird on land staring directly into the camera lens
Feb. 12, 2017: Seabird selfie! Each year, Laysan albatrosses return to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge within Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to breed and lay their eggs. This one tried to get acquainted with the camera! You can help Laysan albatrosses by reducing the amount of plastic you use and always properly disposing of trash. Discarded plastic often ends up in the ocean, where to an albatross, it looks rather like food. (Photo: Wayne Sentman)
Emily Aiken collecting samples
Feb. 11, 2017: Today is the International Day of Women and Girls in Science! Here, Nancy Foster scholar Emily Aiken conducts research in Hui o Kuapā's Keawanui Fishpond in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship recognizes outstanding scholarship and encourages independent graduate-level research -- particularly by female and minority students -- in the ocean sciences. Learn more about the scholarship at fosterscholars.noaa.gov. (Photo courtesy of Emily Aiken)
green sea slus spotted on eel grass
Feb. 10, 2017: This little invertebrate is a Taylor's sea hare! These bright green sea slugs can be spotted on eel grass in West Coast sanctuaries like Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Jennifer Stock/NOAA)
a juvenile goldentail moray pokes its head out of a small crevice in the reef
Feb. 9, 2017: When some gold catches your eye on a reef during your dive - that's a moray!! Here, a juvenile goldentail moray pokes its head out of a small crevice in the reef at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Emerging from their hideouts at night, goldentail morays are one of a few eel species in Flower Garden Banks that love to chow down on invertebrates for a midnight snack. (Photo: Steve Miller)
brown pelican taking flight from the surface of the water
Feb. 8, 2017: Aaaand lift off! This brown pelican takes flight in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Did you know these coastal birds can dive from upwards of 60 feet in the air when feeding? The force from this steep dive stuns small fish so the pelican can scoop them up in its throat pouch. Watch out for these talented birds on your next trip to the sanctuary! (Photo: Ken Tatro)
hawaiian monk seal on the beach looking at the camera
Feb. 7, 2017: Don't look so disgruntled! The Hawaiian monk seal may be one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, but their numbers have been increasing for the past three years! The population is now estimated to be around 1,400 seals -- about 1,100 seals in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and 300 seals in the main Hawaiian Islands, including Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about this amazing recovery effort and NOAA's role in it. (Photo: Megan Nagel/U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service) NOAA Fisheries Service
closeup view of a bright pink sea slug in a tidepool
Feb. 6, 2017: Valentine's Day is coming up, but this is no ordinary rose -- it's a Hopkins' rose! This bright pink sea slug can be spotted in the tidepools of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. When tidepooling in search of these little invertebrates, tread lightly! Tidepools are fragile habitats and it's all too easy to crush their tiny inhabitants. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
orange seastar on top of a piece of coral
Feb. 5, 2017: It's sea star Sunday! This little echinoderm was spotted in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Sea stars move using tiny "tube feet" located on the underside of their bodies. These tube feet also help them hold on to their prey! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
a white ibis with a crab in its beak
Feb. 4, 2017: Gotcha! The white ibis is one of many types of birds that can be spotted in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These wading birds move slowly through shallow water, probing for small crustaceans. With a little bit of luck and skill, they get a crabby snack! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
windswept view of the shoreline of olympic coast
Feb. 3, 2017: Take in the windswept view of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! Located on the outer shores of Washington state and adjacent to Olympic National Park, this national marine sanctuary protects one of the last relatively undeveloped coastlines in the United States. The sanctuary's intertidal zone is home to over 300 species of aquatic plants, invertebrates, and fish. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
sea otter and cub swimming
Feb. 2, 2017: It's World Wetlands Day! Located in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Elkhorn Slough is one of California's last great coastal wetlands. Flushed by ocean tides in the heart of Monterey Bay, its waterways, mudflats, and marsh support a huge diversity of wildlife -- including sea otters! Estuaries like Elkhorn Slough are extremely productive ecosystems, and provide food, shelter, migration stopovers, and places to breed for many animals. However, they're also quite delicate and need our help to ensure they remain thriving ecosystems. (Photo © Monterey Bay Aquarium)
diver collecting samples near a coral reef
Feb. 1, 2017: You might think it's all dark colors in the deep environments of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, but here bright creatures line the reef! In this photo, a diver explores orange hydroids and strawberry anemones on a reef crest at Craine's Point during a technical expedition in 2010. The mission was historic, the first technical dive expedition in Cordell Bank's waters since the sanctuary's designation in 1989. Though other expeditions have since been conducted, samples taken during this expedition were archived and identified by the California Academy of Sciences, and have contributed greatly to our knowledge of ocean communities living at the upper reaches of Cordell Bank. What other species can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
spinner dolphin flipping through the air
Jan. 31, 2017: Dolphins are some of the most beloved marine mammals on the planet, but Hawaiian spinner dolphins like this acrobatic individual in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary need our help! Hawaiian spinner dolphins feed offshore at night and return to Hawai'i's nearshore waters to rest and recuperate during the day. Research has shown that frequent interaction with swimmers and boaters in their habitat can negatively affect the dolphins' heath. Although a single disturbance may seem harmless, these dolphins face these stressors multiple times a day. And each disturbance takes time away from the dolphin that it may have used for resting, nurturing its young, or socializing with other dolphins. When visiting dolphin habitats, help keep these dolphins safe by giving them plenty of space to rest and recuperate. Even those of us living far from dolphin habitats can help -- spread the word to your traveling friends and help promote responsible recreation habits! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #14097)
diver swimming near the wreck of the monitor
Jan. 30, 2017: Happy anniversary to our nation's first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! This marine protected area was established on this day in 1975 to protect the wreck of the USS Monitor. Monitor was the prototype for a class of U.S. Civil War ironclad, and significantly changed the course of naval technology in the 19th century. Today, the wreck rests 240 feet beneath the surface off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, and is accessible by technical divers with a permit. Learn more about this historic wreck and national marine sanctuary: monitor.noaa.gov. (Photo: NOAA)
sea lion resting on a buoy
Jan. 29, 2017: Sneak a last few moments of relaxation into your weekend! This sea lion, hauled out on a buoy in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, knows how it's done. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
diver examining a coral reef
Jan. 28, 2017: How do scientists keep track of marine health in your national marine sanctuaries? They conduct surveys! Here, a diver at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary conducts a fish survey, taking in the beautiful corals and sponges as he works. Monitoring dives like this one help the sanctuary assess the condition of sanctuary resources (like fish!) and how they may be changing over time. Learn more about monitoring efforts in the sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
albross chick surrounded by marine debris
Jan. 27, 2017: Protect this floof! Marine debris remains one of the foremost problems our ocean faces. Here in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, a Laysan albatross chick (or mōlī in Hawaiian) rests on a small derelict fishing net. Too often, seabirds like this fluffy nugget, as well as other marine species like sea turtles, end up ingesting or getting tangled up in the plastics we put in our sea, sometimes with fatal consequences. But whether you live near or far from the ocean, we can all do our part to reduce this problem. By opting to buy reusable products and minimize the amount of single-use plastics we purchase, we can cut down on the amount of trash we produce. Recycling can go a long way in keeping plastics out of the ocean, too. How will you help protect seabirds like this albatross chick? (Photo: NOAA)
sea slug eating a nudibranch
Jan. 26, 2017: The circle of life: pursued by a predatory sea slug, this tiny nudibranch sadly isn't long for this world. Fairly common in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, this sea slug, Navanax inermis, is a colorful predator of nudibranchs like Hermissenda opalescenc here. In this photo, you can see Navanax's mouth preparing for the hunt -- and the nudibranch will be gone in the blink of an eye. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
shearwater shearing the surface of the water
Jan. 25, 2017: Lift-off! More than 40 species of seabirds visit NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary every year, including the great shearwater, seen here. Shearwaters are among the most commonly spotted seabirds in the sanctuary, where they can be spotted flying low over sanctuary waters in search of small fish, squid, or crustaceans to eat. Have you spotted one of these while visiting the sanctuary? (Photo: Peter Flood)
shore view of the Port Washington Breakwater Lighthouse
Jan. 24, 2017: This view may be serene, but weather and harsh conditions have claimed hundreds of vessels throughout the Great Lakes. Now, we're working with local communities who have nominated a new national marine sanctuary to protect some of the historic shipwrecks and other maritime resources resting along the Wisconsin coast. In addition to protecting 37 historic shipwrecks, a Wisconsin - Lake Michigan national marine sanctuary would also enhance heritage tourism along the Wisconsin coast, boosting local economies and appreciation for U.S. maritime heritage on the Great Lakes. But we want to know what you think! Over the past year, NOAA has worked to prepare a draft management plan and environmental impact statement for the proposed sanctuary, and these documents are now open for public review. Take a visit to sanctuaries.noaa.gov/wisconsin to read the proposal and learn how to submit your comments. (Photo: Linda Chaloupka)
kayakers paddling through mallows bay's waters
Jan. 23, 2017: Community involvement is a critical part of maintaining and establishing new national marine sanctuaries. The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) has proposed two new national marine sanctuaries, including one at Mallows Bay along the tidal Potomac River, pictured here -- and we'd like to know what you think! The proposed sanctuary would protect more than 200 shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War to present day. Learn more about the proposal and how you can comment. (Photo: Kimberly Hernandez/Maryland Department of Natural Resources)
Two small orange-spike nudibranchs
Jan. 22, 2017: Two small orange-spike polycera (Polycera atra) inch gracefully though their home in NOAA Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. These nudibranchs have bright orange tips on their gills, from which they get their common name. (Photo: Evan Barba)
balloonfish
Jan. 21, 2017: Excuse me, I'm swimming here! Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary visitor Daryl Duda spotted this balloonfish at Pickles Reef. At night, balloonfish hunt the reef for mollusks and crustaceans. When threatened, a balloonfish can inflate its body by taking in water, making its spikes stand out defensively! (Photo: Daryl Duda)
elephant seal sleeping on the beach
Jan. 20, 2017: What better place to snooze than on the beach? Northern elephant seals spend most of their life at sea, but come to shore in West Coast sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary twice a year to molt, rest, mate, and pup. If you're visiting the sanctuary, make sure to give resting elephant seals plenty of space! They need their beauty sleep, and getting too close can be dangerous for both you and the seals. Learn more about ocean etiquette. (Photo: Patrick Smith)
school of fish swimming around rose atoll
Jan. 19, 2017: All eyes on you: Dozens of colorful fish appear to intently watch the camera in this gorgeous scene on the reef at Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The vibrant coral reefs of American Samoa are a hotspot for marine life -- hundreds of fish species can be found in the sanctuary! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
gray seal riding a wave
Jan. 18, 2017: Surf's up! This gray seal peeks out ahead of a wave crashing at Race Point Beach in Cape Cod National Seashore, just outside NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Gray seals are often spotted within the sanctuary, where they feed on fish, crustaceans, squid, and sometimes even small seabirds! Sometimes employing "social feeding" techniques in which multiple individuals work together to trap a prey item, gray seals are quite the talented hunters. What are some of your favorite ocean hunters? (Photo: Peter Flood)
close up view of coral spawning
Jan. 17, 2017: Happy 25th anniversary to NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Looking something like a burst of celebratory confetti, corals like this one spawn within the sanctuary each year, releasing hundreds of gametes into the water. The warm, sunlit waters of this Gulf of Mexico sanctuary make it a comfy home for hard corals like these, as well as hundreds of other marine species. Plus, the sanctuary is considering expanding. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
top: misty secape of the farallon islands; bottom: reef with fish swimming
Jan. 16, 2017: Happy 36th anniversary to Gray's Reef and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries! The misty seascape of California's Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (top) provides breeding and feeding ground for many different species, including blue, gray, and humpback whales, and supports one of the most significant populations of white sharks in the world. Located off the coast of Georgia, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (bottom) protects a dynamic live-bottom reef home to more than 200 species of fish, as well as the only known winter calving ground for the highly-endangered North Atlantic right whale. Happy anniversary to these two sanctuaries, and many thanks to their staff for protecting our ocean's amazing places! (Top photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA; bottom photo: GregMcFall/NOAA)
wreck of the w.g. mason
Jan. 15, 2017: A living museum: some sanctuaries, like Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, protect shipwrecks and other historic artifacts. By preserving these resources -- like the wreck of W.G. Mason, pictured here -- we preserve parts of our history. The wrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary represent generations of life on the Great Lakes, and because many of them are accessible via diving and snorkeling, you can experience this history for yourself! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
group of sea lions in the water all looking one direction
Jan. 14, 2017: Hey guys, what's over there? These sea lions are congregating in the waters of Santa Barbara Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary overlaps with Channel Islands National Park, and together, the part and sanctuary protect the ecosystems and organisms of California's Channel Islands! (Photo: Patrick Smith)
sea otter
Jan. 13, 2017: Success for the #SeaOtter! Sea otters were once locally extinct from the #Washington coast, but in 1969 and 1970, 59 sea otters were relocated there from Alaska. These otters have thrived: today more than 1,800 individuals call the Washington coast home! Most of them live in the waters of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Each year, researchers survey the population -- the 2016 census was organized by @usfws and @thewdfw, with assistance from volunteers and staff from the sanctuary, @seattleaquarium, and @ptdefiancezoo. One large raft of over 600 sea otters was observed off the mouth of the Hoh River! (Photo: NOAA)
Lake Michigan
Jan. 12, 2017: We all work better together: we've proposed the designation of two new sanctuaries, and we want to know what you think! One of the proposed sites is the waters of Lake Michigan adjacent to Wisconsin. The site contains 39 known shipwrecks, 15 of which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. We invite you to comment on the draft management plan that @NOAA teams have carefully constructed for the new site. Learn more about the proposal, including how to submit comments online, by mail, or at public meetings. The comment period will be open through March 31st -- we can't wait to hear from you! (Photo: Tish Hase)
humpback whale breaching
Jan. 11, 2017: Happy hump(back) day! Humpback #whales, like this one in #HawaiianIslandsHumpbackWhale National Marine Sanctuary, have the longest flippers of any cetacean. (They're roughly one-third the whale's body length!) The leading edge of these lengthy flippers aren't smooth; instead, they have bumps called tubercules on them. These tubercules make the humpback whale flippers more hydrodynamic, increasing humpback whale agility and helping the whales maneuver when catching fish. Researchers are studying this flipper shape to understand how to make more efficient wind turbines! (Photo: R. Finn/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15240)
aerial view of mallow bay shipwreck
Jan. 10, 2017: We've proposed the designation of two new national marine sanctuaries, and we want to know what you think! One of those, seen here, is at #MallowsBay, Maryland, on the tidal #PotomacRiver. The proposed site contains an extraordinary collection of more than 100 known and potential shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War through the present. The shipwrecks include the remains of the largest “Ghost Fleet” of #WorldWarI wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet, which are listed on the National Register of Historic Places. In addition to its maritime heritage resources, Mallows Bay is a largely undeveloped landscape and waterscape identified as one of the most ecologically valuable in Maryland. While NOAA’s proposed sanctuary regulations would focus only on the protection of the shipwrecks and associated maritime heritage resources, the structures provided by shipwrecks and related infrastructure serve as habitat for populations of recreational fisheries, bald eagles, and other marine species. (Photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University)
diver with a shark swimming near by
Jan. 9, 2017: Just another day at the office! A curious Galapagos #shark (manō in Hawaiian) approaches @NOAA scientist Dr. Randy Kosaki. Here, Dr. Kosaki and his team are slowly decompressing on their way to a surface from a 300-foot dive at Pioneer Bank in #Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Deep technical dives like this one help the monument's scientists understand deep reef environments, which are often less-studied due to their depth. (Photo: NOAA and Richard Pyle/Bishop Museum)
close up of a giant clam
Jan. 8, 2017: Mottled in green, brown, and pink, this giant #clam was spotted in the Fagalua/Fogama'a area of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Once nestled into a location on the reef, giant clams remain stationary throughout life, and play a major role in reef community structure. Like corals, giant clams have developed symbiotic relationships with algae called zooxanthellae. In return for shelter, zooxanthellae provide giant clams with nutrients they've photosynthesized! (Photo: NOAA)
diver looking at a shipwreck
Jan. 7, 2017: Need a holiday after your holiday? Travel to one of your national marine sanctuaries to enjoy a variety of recreational activities amongst some of the most beautiful scenery in the United States! Here, a diver explores the wreck of the City of Washington in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Whether you love boating, fishing, diving, snorkeling, or simply enjoying some time on the beach, your national marine sanctuaries are the perfect place to get to know our nation's marine environments while having some major adventures! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
top: aerial view of mallows bay; bottom: diver examining shipwreck
Jan. 6, 2017: Big news! NOAA is proposing to designate two new national marine sanctuaries to protect historically-important shipwrecks -- and we need YOU to weigh in! These two sites would be the first national marine sanctuaries designated since 2000. In Maryland (top image), NOAA is proposing a national marine sanctuary in Mallows Bay in the Potomac River, which contains more than 100 shipwrecks dating from the Revolutionary War to the present. In Wisconsin (bottom image), NOAA is proposing to designate a 1,075-square-mile area of Lake Michigan that holds 37 known shipwrecks, including Wisconsin’s two oldest known shipwrecks. Learn about the new proposals and how you can tell us what you think by clicking on the links above. (Top photo: Marine Robotics & Remote Sensing, Duke University; bottom photo: Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society)
photo of a bird flying
Jan. 5, 2017: Happy National Bird Day! Located off the coast of California, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's food-rich waters make it a major feeding destination for thousands of local and highly migratory seabirds. Nearly 70 bird species have been observed in the sanctuary. Laysan albatross, like this one, breed thousands of miles from the Cordell Bank region in Hawai'i's Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, yet still travel to places like Cordell Bank for food. (Photo: Laura Morse/NOAA)
photo of a spidery crab
Jan. 4, 2017: Perched carefully on the spines of an urchin, this yellowline arrow crab is one of many crustaceans that make their home in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Found in the Atlantic from North Carolina to Brazil, these little, spidery crabs inhabit coral and rocky reefs, where they scavenge on small invertebrates. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a brown spotted nudibranch
Jan. 3, 2017: What's a nudibranch? These soft-bodied mollusks are also sometimes referred to as sea slugs. The word "nudibranch" means "naked gills," describing the feathery gills they wear on their backs. This nudibranch was spotted at Elvers Bank in the Gulf of Mexico, which is one location that could be protected by an expanded Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Learn about the proposed expansion here.
photo of a monk seal napping on the beach
Jan. 2, 2017: Still snoozing after a raucous New Year's party? You're not alone! This Hawaiian monk seal is taking a nap on Midway Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Find out how you can help protect these highly endangered seals here. (Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA)
photo of orca whales and a calf swimming
Jan. 1, 2017: Happy New Year from your National Marine Sanctuary System! With the new year we celebrate new life, like this orca calf in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. What are you celebrating today? (Photo: Douglas Croft, under NOAA Fisheries Permit #15621)
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