earth is blue

Earth is Blue Photo and Video Archive

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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manta ray swimming by a diver
Dec. 31, 2017: "As human beings we are made up of approximately 60 percent water, and naturally we are drawn to and inspired by the magnificence of the special places of our National Marine Sanctuary System. As a scuba diver, I am most inspired by the abundant marine life within the sanctuary sites. It makes me want to work harder to protect their home. " – Dr. Michelle Johnston, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary research marine biologist. What inspires you about the ocean? (Photo: NOAA)
water of the Outer Banks
Dec. 30, 2017: North Carolina's Outer Banks is one of the most unique places in the world, containing some of the most dramatic barrier islands and most dangerous shoals and currents on Earth. The area is often referred to as the Graveyard of the Atlantic because these waters have entombed thousands of vessels and countless mariners who lost a desperate struggle against the forces of war, piracy, and nature. On New Year's Eve, 1862, the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor met its end, sinking to the bottom of the sea. Today, this historic wreck is protected by our nation's first national marine sanctuary -- Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Peter Flood)
coral reef
Dec. 29, 2017: Did you know there are vibrant coral reefs off the coast of Texas? Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary protects some of the healthiest coral reef communities in the world, with corals, sponges, and animals galore. It's pretty in pink! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
giant green sea anemone
Dec. 28, 2017: This giant green sea anemone is soaking up the sun in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! These anemones can be found in tidepools all along your West Coast national marine sanctuaries – have you spotted them while exploring? (Photo: Adam Baus)
diver swimming over the wreck of the city of washington
Dec. 27, 2017: Your national marine sanctuaries protect natural treasures and historical artifacts – sometimes both at once! The steamship City of Washington ran aground on Elbow Reef in the Florida Keys on July 10, 1917. Today, the shipwreck harbors marine invertebrates, and provides shelter for fish and other animals. Now both a habitat and a relic of the past, the wreck is protected by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Bill Goodwin/NOAA)
Christmas tree hydroid
Dec. 26, 2017: This Christmas tree hydroid wants in on the festivities! Though it may not quite be the Christmas tree you gathered around yesterday, this hydroid gets its name from its branches, which give it the appearance of a Christmas tree from afar. Hydroids are closely related to jellyfish -- have you seen them while exploring your sanctuaries? This one was spotted in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
snow covered shore and waters of Lake Huron
Dec. 25, 2017: We're celebrating the winter wonderland in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary – happy holidays from all of us in your National Marine Sanctuary System! (Photo: Leanna Springer)
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Dec. 24, 2017: "I am heartened and inspired that the National Marine Sanctuary System is protecting areas of breathtaking beauty – areas that are filled with marine life, giving the ocean its best chance to stay healthy for us all and for future generations. I feel so good that I am able to be a volunteer for sanctuaries, and that my daughter is watching me, and also helping, having learned that we can all make a difference to the ocean (and thus our planet) in some way if we pitch in!" – Ruth Rubin, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary volunteer. Learn about sanctuary volunteer opportunities. What inspires you about the ocean? (Photo: Jody Parker)
black-footed albatross swimming
Dec. 23, 2017: Some trivia for you: how many birds breed and nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument? If you guessed in the thousands, think higher -- and a little higher still. Some 14 MILLION seabirds representing 22 species come to these islands! One of them is the black-footed albatross. Here, a juvenile rests on the waves. When it's old enough, it will embark on a long migration that may take it to West Coast national marine sanctuaries like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
a chain of salps
Dec. 22, 2017: A garland of holiday lights? Not quite -- this odd-looking creature in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is a chain of salps! These gelatinous creatures glide through the water in colonies, feeding on phytoplankton. Though they may look alien, they're actually more closely related to us than crabs are: salps have nerve chords that are similar to our spinal chords, whereas crabs are invertebrates. (Photo: Michelle Manson)
Christmas tree worms
Dec. 21, 2017: Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree...worms? Christmas tree worms like these in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary burrow into coral, but leave two tree-like crowns protruding. These crowns are used for respiration and to catch a nice holiday dinner, in the form of microscopic phytoplankton. Worm wishes this holiday season from your National Marine Sanctuary System! (Photo: Steve Miller)
whale tail breaching
Dec 20, 2017: A whale of a tale – or a tail of a whale? Humpback whale tails, or flukes, can be up to 5 meters across! That's about as tall as a double-decker bus. Every humpback whale has a distinctive pattern on its fluke. These patterns are so unique that they can be used to identify individual whales, just like a human fingerprint. This whale was spotted near the feeding grounds of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Peter Flood)
southern sea otter
Dec. 19, 2017: This southern sea otter is pawsitively excited to sea you! These otterly adorable creatures can be found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where they serve as an important keystone species in kelp forests. Sea otters eat invertebrates like sea urchins, which like to chow down on kelp. By eating urchins, sea otters help keep those populations down so the forest can grow and thrive. When you're visiting the coast, give these significant otters plenty of space – a zoom lens can be key! (Photo: Douglas Croft Images)
bobcat ready to pounce
Dec. 18, 2017: The land and sea are connected, and national marine sanctuary sanctuaries and national parks like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic National Park work closely to protect the animals that depend on these habitats. Here, a bobcat fishes for a salmon in Olympic National Park. Salmon that swim up rivers to spawn in the park live much of their lives in sanctuary waters offshore: seven species of Pacific salmon can be found along the outer coast of Washington. (Photo: Adam Baus)
a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner sounds the pū (conch shell trumpet)
Dec. 17, 2017: "I protect the environment by perpetuating my cultural heritage and by teaching my children about who we are and where we come from. We are people of place." – Kalani Quiocho, Native Hawaiian program specialist for Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Here, a Native Hawaiian cultural practitioner sounds the pū (conch shell trumpet) to announce the arrival of the traditional voyaging canoe, Hikianalia, at Nihoa Island in the monument. What inspires you about the ocean? (Photo: Jamie Makasobe)
sea robin walking along the seafloor
Dec. 16, 2017: Researchers in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary spotted this sea robin walking along the seafloor. That's right – walking! Sea robins have three "legs" on each side, called fin rays, which help them move across the seafloor and explore in search of food. (Photo courtesy of Timothy Henkel, Valdosta State University)
mussels in a tidepool
Dec. 15, 2017: What's so cool about a tidepool? Though they may look small and unassuming, the creatures that live in tidepools are incredibly resilient and adaptable. Every day, they inhabit a changing world: they're battered by waves and alternate between life underwater and above it. And some intertidal creatures provide shelter for others: the nooks and crannies between mussels like these in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provide places to hide for other small organisms. What's your favorite tidepool creature to spot? (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)
women holding paddle on a paddleboard
Dec. 14, 2017: Dreaming of summer adventures? National marine sanctuaries are a paddler's paradise. At Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, you can experience the outdoors and history all at once: many shipwrecks in the sanctuary are shallow enough that you can see them from the surface! What's your favorite sanctuary to paddle in? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
Hawaiian monk seal swimming in shallow water surrounded by fish
Dec. 13, 2017: You're being watched! This curious Hawaiian monk seal was spotted in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Though Hawaiian monk seals are highly endangered, their situation is looking up. For the past three years, this species' population has been increasing for the first time in decades, thanks to recovery actions by NOAA Fisheries Service, Papahānaumokuākea, and other partners. You can help protect these seals, too! Marine debris is one of the threats monk seals face, so by reducing the amount of plastic we use, keeping our trash out of the water, and assisting with cleanups, we can all help Hawaiian monk seals survive. (Photo: Koa Matsuoka)
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, 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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: 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 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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May 26, 2017: Caption
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May 25, 2017: Caption
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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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 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)
photo of a sunset at olympic coast
Dec. 31, 2016: It's New Year's Eve! What better fireworks than this blazing sunset in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a sea lion up close
Dec. 30, 2016: Keep that chin up! California sea lions are found in many West Coast national marine sanctuaries, including Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where this one was photographed. These sea lions spend several days at a time at sea, diving almost continuously and only resting briefly at the surface. Gregarious creatures, California sea lions often form dense groups while ashore. (Photo: Mojoscoast/NOAA) (Photo: Steve Sellers/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck and fish
Dec. 29, 2016: When is a shipwreck more than a shipwreck? When it's an artificial reef! Shipwrecks are protected by national marine sanctuaries for a number of reasons: they serve as living museums to teach visitors about the past; they tell the stories of their times, especially those of the people who lived, sailed, and died on them; and often, they are memorials to those who were lost on them. In many cases, too, they harbor new life, serving as artificial reefs that attract invertebrates, fish, and other marine animals. U-85, pictured here, is one such wreck, and could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Steve Sellers/NOAA)

photo of an orange garibaldi
Dec. 28, 2016: What're you looking at? California's state marine fish, the garibaldi, lives in the rocky reefs and kelp forests of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Garibaldis are highly territorial and will fend off larger fish and even divers by making noise, nipping, and making aggressive passes. When spawning, male garibaldis groom a section of the reef, removing debris and tending to a patch of red algae in hopes of attracting females. (Photo: Evan Barba)

photo of a diver and a shipwreck
Dec. 27, 2016: You don't need to be a diver to visit the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Several of the sanctuary's historic shipwrecks, including the steamboat New Orleans, are shallow enough to explore with a snorkel. On June 14, 1849, New Orleans steamed into a heavy fog and strayed from its route, running into a reef at Sugar Island. All of New Orleans' passengers were rescued, but strong winds and waves destroyed the stranded vessel a few days later. Today, New Orleans rests 15 feet down in Lake Huron, where curious snorkelers and divers can explore the wreck! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of bird soaring
Dec. 26, 2016: Taking flight for the holidays? Kittiwakes like this one flock to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary during the winter, where they feed on small fish like sand lance. This is one bird that volunteers sometimes spot during the Stellwagen Bank Christmas Bird Count! Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary teams up with the National Audubon Society to survey a 15-mile-diameter area of the sanctuary. What do you think they'll spot this year? (Photo: Peter Flood)

photo of christmas tree worms
Dec. 25, 2016: Gather round the...Christmas tree worms? Far from the North Pole and only a few inches in height, Christmas tree worms are small worms that can be found on reefs in a number of your national marine sanctuaries. Brightly colored and shaped much like your favorite seasonal evergreens, these little worms use their bristle-like appendages to catch meals of phytoplankton and to breathe. While the body of the worm buries inside its host coral structure, each worm projects two tiny "trees" above the coral surface. These two little trees were spotted on the reef at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, creating their own miniature winter wonderland. (Photo: Steve Miller)

photo of a diver over a wreck
Dec. 24, 2016: Here, a Monitor National Marine Sanctuary maritime archaeologist records observations on the wreck of Dixie Arrow. An Allied tanker, Dixie Arrow was sunk in 1942 by a German U-boat. Today, Dixie Arrow rests in 90 feet of water off the coast of North Carolina. This is one wreck that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about it at here. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)

photo of a layson albatross with an egg
Dec. 23, 2016: Another year older and another chick in store for Wisdom, the oldest known wild bird in the world! Now roughly 66 years old (and counting), this incredible Laysan albatross was sighted earlier this month incubating an egg at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Her mate, Akeakamai, is likely off foraging within the 200-mile boundary of the newly-expanded monument. Stay tuned this winter for more Wisdom updates! (Photo: Kristina McOmber/ Kupu Conservation Leadership Program & U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service)

photo of sunlight and coral under water
Dec. 22, 2016: Take a deep breath and bask in the sun lighting up this National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa reef! The only U.S. national marine sanctuary located in the Southern Hemisphere, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects extensive tropical coral reefs. The sanctuary's six management areas encompass some of the oldest and largest Porites coral heads in the world, deep water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities, and rare marine archaeological resources. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of snd dunes
Dec. 21, 2016: At the shores of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary in California, sand dunes help to protect the coastline from storm damage and large, powerful waves. And while these structures may look like large, permanent barriers, sand dunes actually change shape and size over time, constantly molded and shaped by incoming tides -- like clay at a potter's wheel. To help maintain these structures and extend protection for shorelines, we can all work to avoid damaging these structures on walks along the beach. By avoiding stepping on dunes, we can prevent degradation of the dunes and allow them to build over time. Plus, doing so helps maintain the aesthetic beauty of these structures for all to enjoy! (Photo: Margaret Lindgren)

photo of a humpback whale breaching
Dec. 20, 2016: What brings whales to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? Food! Located off the coast of Cape Cod, each summer the rich waters of Stellwagen Bank fill up with small fish called sand lance. With that feast in store, whales like this humpback whale come calling! This makes Stellwagen Bank one of the best whale watching destinations in the world. Have you visited the sanctuary and gotten a chance to go whale watching? (Photo: Richard Dolan)

photo of a woman hiking
Dec. 19, 2016: Feeling moody this Monday? Take in this foggy morning view on the shores of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! Located off Washington's Olympic Peninsula and bordering Olympic National Park, this ocean gem protects seabirds like tufted puffins and bald eagles, as well as marine mammals like sea lions and orcas. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of colorful clown fish
Dec. 18, 2016: Much like the ever-unique and zany Christmas sweaters we love to don this season, coloration patterns on parrotfish vary dramatically -- even among members of the same species! This variation in color and pattern has made them difficult for scientists to classify at times, but makes them quite the festive sight on the reef. This spectacled parrotfish (uhu uliuli in Hawaiian) was spotted at Midway Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, an area home to more than 250 species of fish. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

photo of a buoy in clear blue water
Dec. 17, 2016: Craving warmer weather? Imagine you're gazing out at the Carysfort Lighthouse and a serene, blue sky in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! The Carysfort Lighthouse marks a large shallow reef system off of Key Largo, an excellent snorkeling spot for visitors to the area. (Photo: Nancy Diersing/NOAA)

photo of a monk seal
Dec. 16, 2016: The Hawaiian monk seal may have colonized the Hawaiian Islands as early as 10 million years ago, but today this seal is one of the most endangered marine mammals in the world, with only about 1300 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 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: Ed Lyman/NOAA)

photo of a dolphin swimming under water
Dec. 15, 2016: Feeling the hustle and bustle of the holiday season? You're not alone! The Dall's porpoise, here spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, is sometimes called a "high strung" cetacean, and is one of the fastest-swimming porpoises on Earth. These small marine mammals can reach speeds of up to 30 knots, or 34 miles per hour! We wish you the same hustle as you cruise through your holiday preparations. (Photo: Jim Cotton)

photo of a fringehead and a sea urchin
Dec. 14, 2016: Peacock of the sea? Not quite! This fringehead is looking fabulous in front of a sea urchin in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Located off the coast of southern California in the waters surrounding Channel Islands National Park, the sanctuary protects ecosystems like kelp forests and rocky reefs that are home to many species of fish and invertebrates. Dive here, and you might just get to witness a fish fashion show like this one! (Photo: Cindy Shaw)

photo of a diver and 2 lionfish
Dec. 13, 2016: I spy with my little eye, an opportunity to benefit reef ecosystem health! This past July, a dive team photographing Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary spotted a number of invasive Indo-Pacific lionfish in the sanctuary. And while these invasive fish are beautiful, they face few predators and little competition in their non-native environment. Voraciously eating up fish and crustaceans nearly unopposed, over the past several decades lionfish have caused significant damage in reef ecosystems in the Atlantic. To help protect native species and preserve the benefits native species provide to reefs in the region, we can remove (and selectively eat!) invasive species like the lionfish. Simple dietary choices can make a big impact in protecting the health of our environment! Learn more about lionfish in your national marine sanctuaries here. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of the bow of a shipwreck
Dec. 12, 2016: That sinking feeling: Fire, ice, collisions, and storms have claimed more than 200 vessels in and around what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Located on Lake Huron, the sanctuary protects the rich maritime heritage of the Great Lakes. The steel bulk freighter Grecian is just one of the many wrecks protected in the sanctuary. Grecian sank not once, but twice, finally coming to rest in what are now sanctuary waters. In 1906, Grecian had its first sinking experience, taking on water after striking a rock in the St. Mary's River, but the vessel was successfully refloated and began a trip to Detroit for repair. It seems Grecian was destined for the deep, however: the vessel unexpectedly took on water and sank in Thunder Bay just one week after its initial collision in the St. Mary's. Today, Grecian can be seen preserved in the cold, clear waters of the sanctuary, with bow and stern completely intact. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of coral and blue fish
Dec. 11, 2016: Mountains below the surface: it's International Mountain Day! Located in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Davidson Seamount is an underwater mountain. A submerged volcano rising some 7,250 feet above the sea floor, it's one of the largest seamounts in US waters! But even with its gargantuan size, the peak of Davidson Seamount lies 4,500 feet below the surface. Because of its depth and distance from shore, the seamount is relatively undisturbed by human activity. Its surface teems with deep-sea corals, crabs, basket stars, shrimp, and expansive sponge fields harboring other deep sea critters -- like this sponge and fish! In 2002, scientists at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary began partnering with other organizations like the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) to explore the biological importance of the seamount, and how human activity might shape deep-sea ecosystems like this one in years to come. With the data the team collects, we're able to adapt management practices along the California coast to protect important ecosystems in the deep sea. (Photo: NOAA/MBARI)

photo of coral and yellow fish
Dec. 10, 2016: It’s not just big marine animals that rely on sound -- even tiny coral larvae detect and respond to sound beneath the waves. Many coral species reproduce by releasing their gametes into the water; the gametes then drift to a new spot where they can build new colonies. Because sound can travel over many kilometers within the ocean, many of these coral larvae use sound to detect suitable places to settle, even from far away. Scientists are still working to understand the mechanism by which these larvae detect sound, and how they use sound in conjunction with other factors to decide where to settle. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA, taken in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument)

photo of a snapping shrimp
Dec. 9, 2016: Welcome to the Dry Tortugas! Located near Dry Tortugas National Park, Tortugas Ecological Reserve in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects diverse habitats including seagrass beds and coral reefs. Some parts of the reserve, including Riley’s Hump in the southern portion of the reserve, are protected in part because they are a known spawning site for many species of fish -- many of which, like groupers, use sound during this important life stage. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a snapping shrimp
Dec. 8, 2016: What’s one of the noisiest animals in the ocean? The snapping shrimp! These tiny, two-inch animals make a big sound by quickly shutting their snapper claws and releasing a bubble at up to 60 miles per hour. Snapping shrimp like this one can often be heard at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. They use their loud snaps to communicate, defend their territory, and in some cases, to stun or kill their prey. Other marine animals use the snapping sound as a cue about ocean conditions and resources. Unfortunately, ocean acidification can significantly reduce the sound level and frequency of these shrimps’ snaps. When humans burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some of that carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean and changes the ocean’s chemistry. This changing chemistry seems to be changing snapping shrimps’ behavior, causing them to snap less frequently. You can help the snapping shrimp and the animals that depend on their sounds by working with your community to reduce the amount of fossil fuels you use. What steps will you take to help these noisy little shrimp? (Photo: Paul Caiger)

photo of a diver doing research under water
Dec. 7, 2016: It’s hard to hear your friends when you’re in a crowded room! And right now, many places in the ocean are becoming like that crowded room, as noise pollution -- like sounds from ships -- makes the ocean environment much louder than it used to be. That’s a major concern, since many marine animals, like humpback whales, depend on sound for everything from communicating with their mates and offspring to finding food. Dr. David Wiley, research coordinator at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, has been studying the impacts of ship noise on foraging humpback whales. A recent study he collaborated on is among the first to show that humpback whale foraging behavior is significantly altered from exposure to ship noise. As the intensity of ship noise increases -- from increased shipping, for example -- humpback whales decrease the number of bottom-feeding events per dive, perhaps because ship noise interferes with the sounds they produce to coordinate their bottom-feeding behavior. (Photo: Laura Howes)

photo of a diver doing research under water
Dec. 6, 2016: The ocean is vast, so how do researchers at national marine sanctuaries study what lives there? They listen! The sounds fish and other marine organisms make are species-specific, so listening to them is a great way to determine what’s in the sanctuary. Researchers at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary deploy shallow water hydrophones to record ambient sound, like that of fishes and boats. Researchers have also deployed deep-water hydrophones in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to record sounds like whales and ships. These listening stations will help us learn how noisy our sanctuaries are. (Photo: NOAA, taken in Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary)

photo of a grouper up close
Dec. 5, 2016: Hear that? Sound is a crucial part of marine ecosystems and can help organisms communicate and identify the whereabouts of mates, offspring, predators and prey. Groupers, like this marbled grouper in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, are known to produce low-frequency “booms” that are loud enough for passing scuba divers to hear. A grouper makes this sound by contracting its sonic muscle, which in turn causes its swim bladder to contract and expand. These booms are usually made during courtship and spawning events. Hear a grouper boom here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of 4 whales in the water
Dec. 4, 2016: Why is noise such a big deal in the ocean? Underwater, sound travels much further than light or smell, making it a crucial way for many marine animals to understand the world around them. Whales, like these right whales, use sound to communicate during important activities, like keeping mothers and nursing calves together, foraging in groups, establishing mates and migrating. But in recent decades, human activities like shipping and oil exploration have made the ocean a much noisier place -- which can spell trouble for many marine animals. This week, join us for Noise Week to learn how animals use sound to navigate the marine world and how sanctuary scientists study ocean noise! Learn more about noise in sanctuaries here. (Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance/NOAA, under NOAA permit #15488)

photo of a jelly fish
Dec. 3, 2016: Come sail away with this Velella velella in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Vellela vellela, or the by-the-wind sailor, is a small, unique species of jellyfish that has a vertical sail atop its float, helping it to travel. This sail is oriented at a diagonal to the animal's body axis, allowing it to take advantage of prevailing wind currents that push the animal across the sea. Scientists have found that populations along the California coast tend to have sails oriented to the right, while populations farther west in the Pacific tend to have sails oriented to the left, reflecting differing wind patterns in their respective regions! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of pink coral
Dec. 2, 2016: Shallow-water corals aren't the only corals in the sea! In deep waters, specially-adapted species of coral thrive. In turn, these corals provide habitat for other organisms, like shrimp, crabs, and fish. This bubblegum coral was spotted supporting a brittle star in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument by the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research. Learn more about deep-sea corals here. (Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)

photo of yellow greenish coral that has been restored
Dec. 1, 2016: When boats like recreational or commercial fishing vessels ground, they can sometimes can cause significant damage to coral reef structure. But following damage, restoration specialists at Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary work hard to restore coral reefs to healthy conditions. This site at South Carysfort Reef in the Florida Keys was damaged in April 2015, crushing and dislodging mustard hill coral and purple sea fans. By reattaching dislodged corals with cement, scientists restabilized loose colonies at the grounding site. A year later, the 60 reattached corals appear to be thriving! By using nautical charts and following safe boating and anchoring practices, you can help prevent future reef damage. (Photo: Bill Goodwin/NOAA)

photo of orange coral
Nov. 30, 2016: Corals like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are gorgeous, diverse marine species found throughout our world's ocean. But did you know that corals actually provide humans several critical services? In addition to sustaining biodiversity and providing us food, medicine, and recreational opportunities, coral reefs can serve as a critical, natural defense for coastal communities. Healthy coral reefs like those in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa can diffuse much of the energy of hard-hitting ocean waves before waves ever reach the shore, helping to protect coastlines from damage, especially in the event of a large storm. (Photo: Tom Moore/NOAA)

photo of a bleached coral
Nov. 29, 2016: Corals are among the most sensitive organisms to rising ocean temperature, with even the slightest temperature increase impacting the delicate relationship between corals and their symbiotic algae known as zooxanthellae. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, which builds up and acts as a heat-trapping blanket, warming the planet. Some of this heat is absorbed by the ocean. As water temperatures rise, corals become stressed and expel the tiny zooxanthellae that provide them with food. This process makes corals appear "bleached," as seen in this photo from National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Over time, these bleached corals can die. It's up to all of us to do our part to protect corals and the ecosystems that depend on them from warming temperatures. By working with our communities to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we use, we can all come together to protect the future health of coral reefs. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of a mithrax crab and coral
Nov. 28, 2016: It's Corals Week! Coral reefs are thought to contain the greatest level of biodiversity of any ecosystem in the world -- even more than tropical rainforests. Hundreds of marine organisms rely on coral reefs for food, shelter, mating grounds and more, like this mithrax crab in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. While some species eat coral, others protect corals from algae overgrowth and filter water surrounding corals, recycling nutrients and removing debris. Mithrax crabs like this one munch on algae and decaying material on the reef, obtaining food while helping clean the reef. Without healthy reefs, hundreds of marine organisms would lose valuable resources they need to survive, and biodiversity in our ocean would suffer. Stay tuned this week to learn more about reefs, and what we can do to protect these critical habitats! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a diver above a shipwreck
Nov. 27, 2016: National marine sanctuaries aren't just in the ocean! Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is located in Lake Huron and protects one of the best-preserved collections of shipwrecks in the nation. What's more, divers and snorkelers are welcome to explore the wrecks -- as long as you're willing to brave the chilly waters! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of 2 elephant seals on the beach
Nov. 26, 2016: Winter is coming! And that means dozens of elephant seals will be making their way to the beaches at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and other West Coast sanctuaries to mate. Each year between December and February, elephant seals come to shore to breed. Males -- like the two seen here -- arrive first and fight for territory on the beach in quick, aggressive battles. Though males may experience minor injury as a result of these battles, severe harm or lasting damage rarely occur. Following establishment of territories, females arrive and the mating season ensues. Each pregnant female then gives birth to a single pup, who she'll nurse for about a month before returning to sea. Planning a visit to the area this winter? Be sure to give elephant seals plenty of space, for your own safety and for the safety of the animals. Do not approach seals on the beach for a photo, even if they appear to be resting. Instead, enjoy the scene from a healthy distance. By doing so, you can help protect these animals! (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)

photo of 2 kids on the beach
Nov. 25, 2016: Need some fresh air after yesterday's feast? Sanctuaries like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary are perfect places to catch a wave, take a dip, go on a seaside walk, or explore a tidepool brimming with life! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a monk seal and turtle snuggling on the beach
Nov. 24, 2016: Happy Thanksgiving from all of us at NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries! It's only with your support that we can successfully protect our nation's precious marine ecosystems, and we are ever-thankful for you. We're also thankful for the expansion of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, which has granted protection to thousands more marine organisms and many critical habitats. This expansion marked a major conservation success for our ocean, and will help protect endangered species like this cuddly monk seal and green sea turtle for decades to come. To all of our friends, partners, and supporters, we wish you a Happy Thanksgiving, and a wonderful holiday season! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)

photo of a colorful spotted cabezon
Nov. 23, 2016: What lives within the kelp forest at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Marine mammals, crustaceans and fish -- like this cabezon! Male cabezon guard their eggs ferociously, leaving the nest only when closely approached. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of a beach and big rocks
Nov. 22, 2016: The view from First Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is breathtaking. Seabirds call above, while sea stars, anemones and dozens of other creatures live and thrive in tidepools and the nearby nutrient-rich waters. But this sanctuary is particularly vulnerable to the impacts of climate change, and needs our protection!

When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, and some of this atmospheric carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean. This carbon dioxide changes the ocean's chemistry, making the water more acidic and making it harder for shelled organisms to construct their shells and survive to adulthood. This can negatively impact shellfish industries and organisms that depend on shellfish as food sources. A combination of factors makes the Washington coast especially susceptible to acidified water, including coastal upwelling, which brings offshore water that is rich in carbon dioxide up from the deep ocean and onto the continental shelf. We can all do our part to protect vulnerable ecosystems like those at Olympic Coast by working with our communities to reduce the amount of fossil fuels we burn -- for example, through supporting local food initiatives or renewable energy programs. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of several long-spined sea urchins
Nov. 21, 2016: Beautiful long-spined sea urchins gather in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Though these fascinating creatures were almost entirely wiped out by an epidemic in the 1980s, they've make an incredible comeback throughout the Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean. This is great news in the region, because these organisms help prevent algae overgrowth by grazing on algae across reefs! Keep your eye out for these spiny critters on your next visit to the sanctuary. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a sei whale feeding
Nov. 20, 2016: Sei what?! Sei whales! This sei whale was spotted skim feeding in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Sei whales are baleen whales, filter feeding on plankton, small fish and squid using large baleen plates. They prefer to feed at dawn, and are actually the fastest known species of cetaceans! Check out the wake generated by this hungry individual. (Photo: Laura Lilly)

photo of a dolphin blowing air out of its blow hole
Nov. 19, 2016: Take a deep breath! Marine mammals like dolphins breathe air just like humans. But unlike us, they breathe through a blowhole at the top of their heads, as can be seen by the air escaping this dolphin's blowhole in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite dolphin fact? (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #14097)

photo of colorful coral and fish
Nov. 18, 2016: Early morning sunlight shines down through the water at Fagatele Bay in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, casting light on some of the vibrant, tropical fish that inhabit the region. Take a moment to soak in the tropical beauty at these southern reefs with us and swim on into the weekend! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of 2 north atlantic right whales
Nov. 17, 2016: North Atlantic right whales, among the rarest of all large whales, are often spotted hanging out in and around Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Only about 500 of these whales are still alive, and sanctuaries like Gray's Reef can help protect the endangered right whale from threats like ship strikes and disturbance from whale watching vessels and other boat traffic. Marine protected areas like national marine sanctuaries can offer animals like the right whale safe spaces to mate and raise their young, encouraging healthy population growth over time. Learn more about these magnificent whales. (Photo: Sea to Shore Alliance/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15488)

photo of a woman snorkeling and coral beneath her
Nov. 16, 2016: Happy anniversary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Twenty-six years ago today, the sanctuary at Florida Keys was designated to protect some 2,900 square nautical miles of extensive seagrass beds, mangrove forests and the world's third largest barrier reef. More than 6,000 species, from seabirds to dolphins, find refuge in the sanctuary. Plus, the sanctuary welcomes visitors to enjoy recreational activities like snorkeling and fishing, while helping to ensure that these activities only happen in ways and at places that are not harmful to the sanctuary's natural and cultural resources. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a sea butterfly
Nov. 15, 2016: This beautiful pteropod, or sea butterfly, was spotted during a dive in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! Pteropods are tiny creatures, only about an inch in size, but their utility as an indicator species for ocean acidification is huge. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into our atmosphere. Some of that rampant carbon dioxide is absorbed by the ocean, where it changes the ocean's chemistry and makes the water more acidic. These changes in ocean chemistry are making it harder for pteropods to build their shells. By tracking pteropod populations and keeping an eye on the health of their shells, we can gain information about the rate of ocean acidification and better analyze how chemical changes in the ocean will impact other shelled organisms and whole ecosystems over time. Learn more about the work the NOAA Ocean Acidification Program is doing to understand our changing ocean.(Photo: Evan Barba)

photo of a colorful anemone
Nov. 14, 2016: Gorgeous sea anemones like this one photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary come in a wide variety of colors, shapes and sizes. Many of these colorful invertebrates actually enter into symbiotic relationships with photosynthesizing algae, much like their cousins, the corals! In return for the food algae provide anemones, anemones bend toward or away from the light to provide algae the best opportunity to carry out photosynthesis. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of a tiger shark about to eat a laysan albatross
Nov. 13, 2016: Look out! This tiger shark (niuhi in Hawaiian) is about to snag a Laysan albatross snack in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Because of their association with shark attacks -- and those impressive jaws, here inching up on a Laysan albatross -- tiger sharks are feared by many people. But sharks like the tiger shark are incredibly important animals in ocean environments. Sharks help remove dead or decaying debris from the ocean, and thereby help keep our ocean clean, while also helping to keep ecosystems in balance. Learn more about sharks and their important role in the ocean. (Photo: Ilana Nimz)

up close photo of a manitee
Nov. 12, 2016: It's manatee awareness month! During winter, manatees migrate to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary in search of warm, shallow waters to escape winter's chill. Because manatees tend to hang near the shoreline, munching pounds of seagrass, boat strikes have long been a threat to manatee population. By keeping our eyes out, motors up, and boat speeds low, we can all do our part to help protect these lovable creatures. Learn more about Florida Keys manatees. (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS)

photo of a an octopus and other marine life on a shipwreck under water
Nov. 11, 2016: Today, Veterans Day, we stop to honor the sacrifice members of our Armed Forces have made to protect and defend our nation. Just this year, the discovery of the wreck of the USS Conestoga in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary at last brought peace to several families of Navy crew members once lost at sea. We wish that same peace to all veterans and their families today, and work to protect the memory of our fallen soldiers at rest in national marine sanctuaries. Now clad in new purple and white marine life, the wreck of Conestoga serves as a permanent, living reminder of the sacrifice the sailors aboard the Conestoga made on behalf of their country, and as an artificial reef that today provides refuge to marine life. Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a pacific white dolphin flipping out of the water
Nov. 10, 2016: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is home to some 13 species of cetaceans (dolphins, whales and porpoises)! Pacific white-sided dolphins like this one are among the most frequently seen at the sanctuary, and are incredibly social animals. While these dolphins may sidle right up alongside a boat to investigate, never try to touch, chase, or feed them. Pacific white-sided dolphins are among the many species protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, and need our help to stay safe and healthy in their natural environment. (Photo: Sage Tezak/NOAA)

photo of a lighthouse
Nov. 9, 2016: Each November, harsh weather patterns strike the Great Lakes, making boating and shipping in the area extraordinarily treacherous. Because of frequent storms and sudden gales, November has been termed the "Deadliest Month" on the Great Lakes. This deadly November weather has claimed many ships over the centuries -- including quite a few in what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Throughout the month of November, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary pays homage on social media to the many ships and lives that have been lost on icy Lake Huron. This month, follow Thunder Bay on Facebook or Twitter (@ThunderBayNMS) as the sanctuary tells the stories of the historic wrecks of Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a sand tiger shark swimming
Nov. 8, 2016: Sand tiger sharks can't help but drop their jaws at the incredible history in and around Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! Though the sanctuary was established to protect the wreck of the USS Monitor, the sanctuary is considering an expansion that could protect many other ships within the Graveyard of the Atlantic.

Here, a sand tiger shark swims around the wreck of Caribsea, a 1919 freighter sunk by a German U-boat during World War II. Laden with heavy cargo, Caribsea sank in less than two minutes after being struck by a torpedo in the middle of the night. The abrupt strike left no time for lifeboats to be launched. Survivors of the attack were forced to flee their bunks and jump into the sea, where they would drift, clinging to the wreckage, for some 10 hours before rescue. A few days after Caribsea sank, a man living in North Carolina's Outer Banks discovered a framed certificate drifting up on the surf during a walk on the beach. The certificate, he would find, belonged to his cousin, a Caribsea crewmember, and would confirm the tragic wreck of the Caribsea for the community. Learn more of the history behind the shipwrecks that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a bright yellow and blue queen triggerfish
Nov. 7, 2016: Queen triggerfish are some of the most distinguishable fish on the reef in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. These beautifully-colored fish can actually change their shade from light to dark depending on their environment! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a fish swimming with purple sea urchins and hydrocorals in the background
Nov. 6, 2016: Purple hydrocorals blanket the rocky depths of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, while purple urchins creep in to feed. Positioned in a unique location where cool, nutrient-rich currents mix with warmer, more southern waters, California's Channel Islands sit at a biological transition zone chock full of life. What other colorful critters can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Cindy Shaw)

photo of a colorful sea slug
Nov. 5, 2016: Cruise on through the weekend like this sea slug (Thuridilla neona) moving along the coral reef of Neva Shoals at Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Closely related to nudibranchs, Thuridilla neona is part of a group of sea slugs that primarily eat algae. (Photo: Scott Godwin/NOAA)

split photo of a humback whale breaching and a humpback whale and calf under water.
Nov. 4, 2016: Happy birthday to 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 since 1992. Each summer, humpback whales migrate from the Caribbean to Stellwagen Bank off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where they feast on food like krill and sand lance that flourish in the sanctuary's 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: Ari Friedlaender, under NOAA Permit 14245. Bottom photo: NOAA, under NOAA Permit #744-1714)

photo of a golden brown jelly fish swimming upside down
Nov. 3, 2016: Happy Jellyfish Day! The Pacific sea nettle, like this one in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, hunts tiny animals like zooplankton and larval fishes with its stinging tentacles and mouth-arms. Plastic bags can look deceptively like sea nettles and other jellies while floating in the water, and can spell trouble for a sea turtle or other animal that's just scouting for a jellyfish snack. Help protect our ocean ecosystems by keeping plastic out of the water! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a brown speckeled bird in flight
Nov. 2, 2016: The long-tailed jaeger spends much of the year far out at sea feeding -- outside of breeding season it may rarely come in sight of land! Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary's food-rich waters make it a major feeding destination for nearly 60 bird species, including the long-tailed jaeger. Oceanographic upwelling in this sanctuary provides nutrients that fuel krill and small fishes, which in turn create rich feeding grounds for birds in the waters of Cordell Bank. Learn more about seabirds in the sanctuary here. (Photo: Laura Morse/NOAA)

photo of a stingray buried in the sand under water
Nov. 1, 2016: What's that buried in the sand in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary? A southern stingray! During the day, these rays bury themselves in the sand to hide themselves. At night, they graze the seafloor, using electroreceptors, touch and smell to find their food. Southern stingrays are not aggressive toward humans, but watch out -- these stingrays have a barb at the base of their tail that will cause a painful laceration if stepped on. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a whiteish octopus on the ocean floor
Oct. 31, 2016: Happy Halloween from your National Marine Sanctuary System! This ghostly octopod was nicknamed Casper when it was spotted by researchers in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team glimpsed this potential new species of octopod at a depth of more than 2.5 miles on the northeast side of Necker Island. Most described species of octopods have two rows of suckers down each arm, but this one has only a single row on each. Even more intriguing is that most deep-sea octopods possess fins that help them navigate in the depths, but this one does not. Spooky! (Photo courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)

photo of a shipwreck with schools of fish around it
Oct. 30, 2016: This ghostly shipwreck is U-352, a German U-boat that was sunk on May 9, 1942 by the USS Icarus, a 165-foot U.S. Coast Guard cutter. Today, this wreck site is likely the U-boat most frequently dived by recreational divers within the Graveyard of the Atlantic, and is one wreck that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the U-boat's history and location. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

photo of 2 surfers looking onto the water
Oct. 29, 2016: What's a weekend without a little fun outdoors? Here, two surfers take in an incredible sunset among the iconic sea stacks and crashing waves of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. What adventure will you find in your national marine sanctuaries? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of a whale and a calf swimming
Oct. 28, 2016: Each summer and fall, whales visit Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary to feed on krill. Busy shipping lanes that coincide with whale feeding areas present a ship strike threat to whales, so sanctuary staff conduct monthly aerial surveys to better understand whale distribution and inform management decisions. During an October aerial survey of marine mammals, sanctuary staff recorded 11 endangered blue whales and two humpback whales in the Santa Barbara Channel shipping lanes. While most of the whales were away from high-traffic areas, this is the highest number of individuals so far recorded during 2016 surveys. By using the Whale Alert app, mariners and members of the public can help sanctuary staff track where the whales are so they can be better protected! (Photo: Jess Morten/NOAA)

photo of a toad fish waiting for prey
Oct. 27, 2016: Boo! An oyster toadfish lies in wait, camouflaged in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Oyster toadfish are peculiar looking fish, and exhibit some interesting behaviors as well. During the spawning season (April to October), male oyster toadfish will emit a call to attract females that sounds somewhat like a foghorn. This call can be heard over long distances, beckoning female toadfish to come say hello. (Photo: Emily Aiken)
photo of a humback whale and calf swimming
Oct. 26, 2016: A mother and calf humpback whale glide through the surface waters in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. After a nearly 12-month gestation period, a female humpback whale gives birth to a single calf that she closely nurtures and feeds for six to 10 more months. While humans consume milk that is about two percent fat, the milk humpback whale moms provide to their calves is 45 to 60 percent fat! This rich milk helps calves grow and develop as their mothers lead them through the first months of life. (Image: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a mola mola
Oct. 25, 2016: It's a mola mola! Usually seen floating solo, mola mola (also known as ocean sunfish) are the largest living bony fish in the sea. This one was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, but mola molas can be found all over the world. These gigantic fish feed primarily on jellyfish. A plastic bag can look remarkably like a jelly when it's floating on the ocean surface and can choke or otherwise harm a mola that mistakes it for a snack. So help protect mola molas by reducing your use of plastic bags and keeping trash off the streets and out of the ocean! (Photo: Sara Heintzelman/NOAA)
photo of a manta ray
Oct. 24, 2016: 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. Two 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.html. We can't wait to see what this new year of Earth Is Blue brings! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA, taken in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a rainbow over the ocean
Oct. 23, 2016: It's our birthday! 🎂 🎉 On October 23rd, 1972, Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, officially establishing what is today the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. For 44 years, we've served as the trustee for America's underwater parks and protected waters. We work with a variety of partners and the public to care for our world's ocean and Great Lakes through research, education initiatives, planning, and community outreach. Thank you for joining us to protect our ocean treasures! What's your favorite ocean or Great Lakes memory? (Photo: Paulo Maurin/NOAA, taken in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument)
photo of a turtle
Oct. 22, 2016: Fin-five from this loggerhead sea turtle in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Loggerheads get their name from their relatively large heads, which support powerful jaws and enable them to feed on hard-shelled prey. From hatching to adulthood, a loggerhead increases its weight more than 6,000 times! Marine debris, fishing gear, and development near their nesting areas remain major issues for loggerheads, but by working together we can help reduce these threats. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of an otter and a cub
Oct. 21, 2016: Today marks the 44th anniversary of the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which ensures that marine mammals like whales, porpoises, seals, sea lions, otters and dolphins can carry out their normal functioning without disruption -- and without the threat of hunting, poaching, or exploitation. Because marine mammals like sea otters play critical roles in the ecosystems they inhabit, this protection benefits humans too! In fact, sea otters like these two in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary serve as keystone species in the kelp forests along the California coast, helping to preserve kelp populations that in turn provide important benefits to humans. Without the protection provided under the Marine Mammal Protection Act, otter populations would likely suffer, and we would lose all of the incredible ecosystem services they provide. Help us celebrate this anniversary by always viewing wildlife responsibly. (Photo: © Monterey Bay Aquarium)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
Oct. 20, 2016: Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects a variety of historic shipwrecks in the waters of Lake Huron, giving divers in the area an opportunity to dive back through several hundreds of years in the shipping industry. Here the wreck of W.P. Thew, a steamer built to carry wood products like logs, timber, railroad ties and shingles, rests 84 feet below the sanctuary's surface. Amidst a dense fog, Thew was lost during a hit-and-run style accident in the summer of 1909. Not a diver? You can still enjoy the history of Thunder Bay's shipwrecks by visiting the Great Lakes Maritime Heritage Center in Alpena, Michigan. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a whale breaching
Oct. 19, 2016: Time for that mid-week stretch with this breaching humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Scientists still aren't quite sure why humpback whales and other species breach, but one hypothesis is that breaching helps whales remove parasites from their skin -- similar to the way some land animals scratch their backs against trees. It's also possible that noise levels might impact breaching behavior. When noise levels from rough seas or boats impact a whale's ability to communicate, they may use the sound of their bodies crashing against the water's surface as an alternate method of communication -- and use visual cues from above the water's surface to help them direct communication. (Photo: Laura Lilly)
photo of fish and vibrant coral and sponges
Oct. 18, 2016: Would you believe this vibrant reefscape can be found just off the coast of Georgia? The scattered rocky outcroppings and ledges of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provide a home for a variety of invertebrates, including sponges, barnacles, fan corals and sea stars. What can you spot here? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a ship wreck
Oct. 17, 2016: In 1942, the steam merchant ship City of Atlanta was sunk by a German U-boat while carrying 3,000 tons of cargo -- mostly food -- and a few passengers. The sinking of City of Atlanta resulted in the largest loss of life among ships torpedoed off the coast of North Carolina during World War II: of 46 people on board, only three survived, rescued six hours later by Seatrain Texas. Today, City of Atlanta rests 90 feet down, blanketed with colorful marine life. This is one ship that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary; learn more about its history and current location here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a green heron
Oct. 16, 2016: The green heron is one of many gorgeous bird species that can be found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These clever birds can use "bait" like a twig or an insect to lure in fish prey! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a very colorful coral
Oct. 15, 2016: Seaview Saturday: The rocky habitat of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is home to a large variety of marine invertebrates and fish -- including this group of widow rockfish (Sebastes entomelas). Productive waters make it possible for these organisms to grow in abundance and exhibit a vibrant underwater landscape! (Photo: Robert Lee/BAUE)
photo of a diver
Oct. 14, 2016: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects an amazing array of marine life, making it a great diving spot for those who have the pleasure to visit! Here, a diver inspects a variety of healthy corals in the sanctuary -- a welcome sight in a time when many corals around the world are undergoing bleaching as a result of warmer ocean temperatures. Learn more about what we can do to keep corals like these healthy. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of a scientist gathering water
Oct. 13, 2016: The shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offer a glimpse into our nation's maritime history, but did you know that Lake Huron also gives scientists the opportunity to understand life as it was billions of years ago? Submerged sinkholes in Lake Huron vent cool, oxygen-free groundwater into the lake bottom. Since this water is denser than normal lake water, it forms a distinct layer on the lake floor that is the perfect habitat for low-oxygen-tolerant bacteria -- microorganisms that are similar to those that lived in Earth's shallow seas 2.5 billion years ago. The Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary research team regularly conducts scientific dives for researchers from Grand Valley State University’s Microbial Biology Lab, the University of Michigan’s Geomicrobiology Lab, the University of Wisconsin-Stout, and the NOAA Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory as they characterize the special ecosystem present at the Middle Island sinkhole. Here, a NOAA diver takes a bacterial mat sample from the Middle Island sinkhole. Learn more about the sanctuary's research here. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
photo of a fluffy white chick stretching its wings
Oct. 12, 2016: Feel the wind beneath your wings like this fluffy white tern chick in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! An abundance of prey items including small fish in the monument allow tern chicks like this one to receive the nutrition they need while fledging. Once its wings are fully developed this tern will take to the skies, joining some 14 million seabirds that breed and nest in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. (Photo: Dan Clark/USFWS)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 11, 2016: It may look like a flower, but don't be fooled! Sea anemones like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are actually animals, and are closely related to corals and jellies. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 10, 2016: Earlier this summer, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore deep ocean ecosystems in and around many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. While surveying Trask Knoll near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, a formation about which little is known, this stubby squid came out to say hello! Though they look like a cross between an octopus and a squid (or perhaps a squishy plush toy) 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 their eyes peeking above surface, they remain buried until prey items like shrimp or small fish pass by. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of an octopus stretching
Oct. 9, 2016: How's that for a stretch? This summer, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the waters in and around many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. While surveying Arguello Canyon near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, researchers spotted this octopus! Learn more about the expedition here. (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
Oct. 8, 2016: Octopuses are about 90% muscle, and about 100% fascinating. Found in many of our national marine sanctuaries, octopuses have a number of unique characteristics that make them well suited to life in the sea. In addition to their impeccable color-changing camouflage -- pictured here in this photo of an octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary -- octopuses have a protein called hemocyanin in their blood. Hemocyanin acts much like our own hemoglobin, the protein that carries oxygen throughout human bloodstreams. But unlike human hemoglobin, which contains iron, hemocyanin is rich in copper and is more efficient than hemoglobin at very cold temperatures or in low-oxygen environments. Hemocyanin is also the compound that makes octopus blood blue. Celebrate Cephalopod Awareness Days with us today and share YOUR favorite octopus facts! (Image: Steve Miller)
photo of a white and orange striped fish
Oct. 7, 2016: Shine bright like a...rockfish? This fish Friday, we bring you the flag rockfish of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. This solitary species is often found tucked into crevices or hiding under boulders. What's your favorite kind of fish to spot when you're exploring your national marine sanctuaries? (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA)
photo of a humpback whale feeding with a bunch of seagulls around its mouth
Oct. 6, 2016: Open wide! It may look like this humpback whale is getting ready to snap some birds up, but it's actually going for krill and small fish. Each summer and fall, humpback whales travel to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Cod where they find an abundance of food. And where humpback whales are, you'll often also find seabirds waiting to gobble up the leftovers! (Photo: Richard Dolan)
photo of a lionfish swimming
Oct. 5, 2016: It's National Seafood Month, and one of the best seafood choices you can make is to eat invasive species! In recent years, the Indo-Pacific lionfish has been found throughout the waters of the southeastern United States, the Gulf of Mexico and the Caribbean, where it poses a serious threat to coral reef ecosystems and fish communities. Indo-Pacific lionfish have voracious appetites -- 1,000 lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish in one year -- and no known predators in the reefs they've invaded. Plus, they have a long lifespan and a rapid reproduction rate. Learn how researchers are working to understand and combat this threat to reef ecosystem health -- and how you can help!. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a dark colored crinoid under water
Oct. 4, 2016: What's one marine organism that's been around since before the time of the dinosaurs? The crinoid! Crinoid fossils have been found dating back to the Ordovician period, roughly 490 million years ago. When attached to the sea floor, like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, these "living fossils" are also known as sea lilies. A crinoid uses its arms to trap small particles of food floating by, then sends that food to its mouth, located in the crinoid's center! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
old photo of the uss monitor and 2 people
Oct. 3, 2016: The USS Monitor, now at rest in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, played a major role in shifting naval warfare during the Civil War. Monitor was the Union's first ironclad warship, and its construction marked the transition from wooden to iron ships in naval history. Here, officers onboard Monitor inspect damage to the iron turret that occurred during the Battle of Hampton Roads on March 9th, 1862, a crucial battle between the USS Monitor and CSS Virginia. Learn more about this historic ship here. (Photo: Library of Congress)
photo of a diver under water
Oct. 2, 2016: Why are the shipwrecks in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary so intact? Because of the beautiful blue-green fresh water you see here! Below the cold, clear waves of Lake Huron, divers can experience some of the best-preserved shipwrecks in the United States with amazing visibility. Come take a dive back through time with us and visit Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a humback whale up close and feeding
Oct. 1, 2016: Smiiiile! Autumn is here, and what better way to celebrate than with a whale watching trip to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? Every summer and fall, humpback whales travel to Stellwagen Bank to feed on krill and small fish. Check out this whale's mug as it sifts water through thick baleen plates to filter out food! Learn more about how you can experience these amazing animals. (Image: NOAA)
photo of a diver and green algae growing on coral under water
Sept. 30, 2016: What happens to a coral reef after a mass bleaching event? Often, algae overgrows the dead corals, dramatically impacting the reef ecosystem, like on this bleached reef near Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. While this can benefit some herbivorous fish in the short term, over the long term the reef ecosystem loses its integrity. By minimizing stressors like pollution and runoff, overfishing, and the impacts of tourism and recreation, we can increase the odds that corals will recover after a bleaching event. What will you do to help protect these important ecosystems? (Photo: John Burns/Hawai'i Institute of Marine Biology - HIMB/NOAA)
photo of a bird landing on water
Sept. 29, 2016: We're swimming through the week like this black-footed albatross in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary​! Found mostly in the North Pacific, the black-footed albatross is the only albatross commonly found off the North American coastline. Though they breed thousands of miles away in Hawai'i, the rich waters of Cordell Bank are a popular feeding site for these migratory birds. Subject to threats brought about by plastics pollution, black-footed albatross need our help to reduce marine debris. What will you do to help protect these seabirds? (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA)
photo of coral under water
Sept. 28, 2016: This photo may be beautiful, but it shows significant bleaching in the coral reef surrounding Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Corals require specific temperature ranges, and when water temperatures become too high, stressed corals often expel the colorful algae they depend on to survive -- this is known as coral bleaching. Recently, our actions have led to warmer water temperatures across the globe. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas to power our homes and fuel our cars, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heat-trapping blanket, warming our planet, including the ocean. In recent years, we've seen coral bleaching events all around the world as a result of this warmer ocean. It's up to all of us to work together to reduce our fossil fuel usage so that we can protect corals and other ocean inhabitants. Together, we can support alternative energy initiatives like solar solutions that will help protect our coral reefs. What will you and your community to do help reduce your fossil fuel usage? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of 2 surfers holding surfboards watching the sunset
Sept. 27, 2016: Happy World Tourism Day! We all like to get away from the hustle and bustle sometimes, and visiting your national marine sanctuaries is the perfect opportunity to recharge while getting acquainted with the natural world. Whether you prefer to surf in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary or go whale watching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, these special places have something for everyone! Which national marine sanctuary will you visit next? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of an access team member fiving the thumbs up
Sept. 26, 2016: All's well on the ACCESS Cruise! Last week, the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies Survey, or ACCESS Partnership, cruised through Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary surveying zooplankton, fish, seabirds and whales to inform resource management along the California Current. Here, the team's most recent member, intern Kaytlin Ingman, assists the marine science team on the back deck. Learn more about ACCESS research here. (Photo: D. Devlin/NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS)
photo of a manta ray and bubbles under water
Sept. 25, 2016: Today, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 16th anniversary as a national marine sanctuary site. Located in northwest Lake Huron, Thunder Bay is adjacent to one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system, earning it the nickname "Shipwreck Alley." Fire, ice, collisions and storms have claimed more than 200 vessels in and around Thunder Bay. Today, the sanctuary protects one of our nation's best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. Plus, many of these wrecks are amazing dive sites! Here, a diver inspects the wreck of D.M. Wilson, which sank in 1894. Happy anniversary, Thunder Bay! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a manta ray and bubbles under water
Sept. 24, 2016: It's a bird, it's a plane -- it's a manta ray! Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary visitor Chas Downey was diving on the sanctuary's West Flower Garden Bank when this manta ray came swimming by. What an amazing sight! Manta rays are popular visitors to the sanctuary, and there are still many unanswered questions about these enormous rays. Sanctuary researchers are working to find out more. (Photo: Chas Downey)
photo of cormarants resting on mangrove trees
Sept. 23, 2016: These cormorants are hanging out on some mangroves during National Estuaries Week! Mangrove trees in estuarine environments like those of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary are specially adapted to survive in saltier water. Their tangled root systems help break waves in tidal ecosystems, reducing erosion and allowing sediment to settle out of the water. Nutrient exchange and calm waters near mangroves also provide excellent nurseries for a variety of marine organisms! Learn more. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a pink jelly-like creature called a siphonophore
Sept. 22, 2016: Home to wild and wonderful creatures like this pink siphonophore, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 36th anniversary as a sanctuary site today. Happy anniversary! Learn about this national marine sanctuary and its amazingly productive ecosystem here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a pair of otters floating in the water
Sept. 21, 2016: Raise your hands -- er, paws -- if you love sea otters! Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Douglas Croft spotted this pair keeping their paws warm in the Elkhorn Slough Nation Estuarine Research Reserve. Once hunted to near-extinction, sea otters have made a comeback on the West Coast in recent years, but they still need our help. When you're visiting the coast, give them plenty of space (a zoom lens like Douglas's can be key!). If you get too close, you might interrupt their feeding, grooming, and resting, which can negatively impact their health and make it harder for these adorable creatures to survive. With good ocean etiquette, you can help protect sea otters and other species. (Photo: Douglas Croft)
photo of a group of otters floating in the water
Sept. 20, 2016: It's Sea Otter Awareness Week! Found along the Pacific coast, sea otters like the group rafting here reside in several of our national marine sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Both in and outside sanctuary borders, sea otters function as keystone species in kelp forest ecosystems, playing a critical role in maintaining the health of this ecosystem. They do this by eating urchins and other animals that could otherwise threaten kelp abundance. Cute AND critical! (Photo: USFWS)
photo of gualala estuary
Sept. 19, 2016: Tide's turning, it's National Estuaries Week! Estuaries are locations where rivers meet the sea. Serving as natural runoff filters and nurseries for hundreds of young fish and other species, estuaries are important, productive habitats for humans and wildlife alike. On the coast of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, the Gualala River estuary pictured here provides an important habitat for young salmonid fish. Learn more about estuaries and Estuary Week Events near you. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a beach with clifs and rocks
Sept. 18, 2016: Designated 24 years ago today, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects vast kelp forests, near-shore deep-ocean environments, and one of North America's largest underwater canyons. Happy anniversary Monterey Bay! Thanks for all you do to protect our ocean. (Image: Katie Holmes/NOAA)
photo of 4 people standing on a pile of nets and ropes that are marine debris
Sept. 17, 2016: Today marks the 31st International Coastal Cleanup! Over the past three decades, more than 10 million people have participated in the International Coastal Cleanup, an cleanup event organized to help address one of the biggest challenges our ocean faces -- marine debris! Here, a team in the recently expanded Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument sits atop a massive pile of fishing nets, rope and other debris cleaned from beaches in the monument. Whether you're participating in an organized cleanup event today or not, head out to your favorite beach today and see what you can do fight marine debris!

Not near a beach? You can still help keep our ocean clean by using reusable shopping bags and drink containers, opting not to use plastic straws, and spreading the word about the importance of maintaining clean and healthy oceans.

Sign up for a cleanup near you here. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of the back of a seagull with a smokey sunset in the background
Sept. 16, 2016: In late August and early September, the Chimney Fire swept through central California, bringing smoke and ash into the sky above Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Though the Chimney Fire is now under control, fires like this can have long-term impacts on both marine and terrestrial wildlife. During the fire, sanctuary visitor Brad Hunt photographed this western gull looking out over a fiery sunset in San Simeon Bay, capturing the heat of the Chimney Fire and sun in one blazing shot. (Photo: Brad Hunt)
drawing of marine life caught in debris
Sept. 15, 2016: Celebrate National Arts in Education Week with one of the winners of the annual NOAA Marine Debris art contest -- and then help solve the problem of marine debris this weekend by taking part in the International Coastal Cleanup! Marine debris one of the most widespread pollution threats facing the world's oceans and waterways -- and you can make a difference. Find a cleanup near you here. (Image: Kathy R., courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris)
photo of two right whales
Sept. 14, 2016: Many marine animals, like these North Atlantic right whales swimming near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, use sound to communicate with one another. Many of these sounds are similar in tone or frequency to noise produced by underwater human activities -- so we're finding that a noisier ocean may mean that animals have more trouble communicating than they used to. Noise can also affect animals' ability to orient and navigate, find food, avoid predators, and select mates. With this in mind, NOAA is launching its Ocean Noise Strategy Roadmap to guide a more effective and comprehensive management of ocean noise impacts on marine life over the next 10 years. Learn more about the roadmap at cetsound.noaa.gov. (Photo: Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission, under NOAA permit #15488)
photo of a close up of giant kelp
Sept. 13, 2016: This giant kelp was photographed in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, but giant kelp is found all the way from southeast Alaska to Baja California, and also in Peru, Chile, Argentina, Tasmania and New Zealand! This macroalga grows to about 30 meters in height, though can grow to more than 50 meters in ideal conditions. Because it frequently grows in dense kelp forests, giant kelp provides essential shelter for many species of adult fish and serves as a nursery for juveniles. In California, up to 100 species of fish depend on these forests! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a drawing of fish and jellies under water
Sept. 12, 2016: It's National Arts in Education Week! Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Massachusetts Marine Educators have jointly sponsored an annual student marine art contest. This wolffish by Saiya Rivera took 4th place in the 2014 contest! Take a look at all the winners from past years here. (Image: Saiya Rivera)
photo of colorful coral, sponges and strawberry anemone
Sept. 11, 2016: Each year, seasonal upwelling brings nutrient-rich water to Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of California. Thanks to these nutrients, the rocky reef of Cordell Bank teems with life. Can you spot the nudibranch egg case here? (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
Sept. 10, 2016: It's shipwreck Saturday! Dive into Lake Huron at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary for a glimpse of the wooden steam barge Montana. En route from Detroit to Georgian Bay to load lumber in 1914, it caught fire, burned to the water’s edge, and sank off Thunder Bay’s North Point. Today, Montana's bow is broken open, but many interesting hull features can still be seen at the site. Its engine, boiler, shaft and propeller are all in place, while the windlass, capstan and rudder also lie among the wreckage. Learn more about diving in Thunder Bay here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a shearwater skimming the water
Sept. 9, 2016: Great shearwaters are one of more than 30 species of seabird that can be found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Cape Cod. The birds winter and nest in the southern hemisphere, usually appearing in the Gulf of Maine in April to feed. However, little is known about how they spend their time in these northern waters, so researchers in the sanctuary are using satellite technology to learn more about shearwaters' movements, life cycle, and feeding and foraging habits. Learn more here. (Photo: Chris Ferrante)
photo of a purple sea hare
Sept. 8, 2016: Say hello to the California sea hare! This underwater herbivore was photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Sea hares are no bunnies, though -- they're mollusks! When threatened by predators, these invertebrates are known to release a dark purple fluid in defense. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of a whale underwater
Sept. 7, 2016: Have you heard the news? Humpback whales that breed in the waters of Hawai'i are no longer considered endangered because this population has rebounded to more than 11,000 individuals. Although they are no longer considered endangered, these whales are still protected, including by Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. You can help protect humpback whales in Hawai'i by following safe boating procedures, staying at least 100 yards away from whales, and reporting injured or entangled whales to NOAA's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. Learn more here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a butterflyfish
Sept. 6, 2016: Check out this new species of butterflyfish! Found in the deep reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, this is Prognathodes basabei. The species was first observed in video taken from manned submersibles more than 20 years ago at depths as great as 600 feet. However, because of the extreme depths, it wasn't until recently that technical divers using advanced electronic closed-circuit rebreathers were able to collect and preserve specimens in a way that would allow proper scientific documentation as an undescribed species. Learn more about the butterflyfish here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of green anemones in a tidepool
Sept. 5, 2016: The tidepools of West Coast sanctuaries like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary are isolated pockets of seawater that collect in low spots along the shore during low tide. They form on rocky coasts where depressions have been scoured in the shoreline or where boulders and debris prevent water from draining back to the sea. The planets and animals that live within them are alternately covered and abandoned by the shifting tides, forcing them to cope with extreme physical, chemical and biological changes. What's your favorite creature to spot while tidepooling? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a whale's fin out of water
Sept. 4, 2016: Fins up if you love whales! Humpback whales like this one are protected by many of your national marine sanctuaries, including Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary in Hawai'i and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in Massachusetts. This weekend, we're at the IUCN World Conservation Congress collaborating with other agencies and organizations about how we can best protect species like these whales, along with the habitats they call home. Follow the action here as we livestream from the World Conservation Congress floor, and on Twitter (twitter.com/sanctuaries) as we livetweet the action! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a big white sponge
Sept. 3, 2016: This ruby brittle star isn't in an underwater snowstorm -- the corals around it are spawning! 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. Learn more here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a big white sponge
Sept. 2, 2016: How big is the largest sponge on record? About the size of a minivan! While diving in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in 2015, researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer discovered this enormous sponge 7,000 feet beneath the ocean surface. Research ships like the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer allow us to explore deep, never-before-seen environments and better understand our ocean ecosystems. (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research)
photo of a diver and a shark
Sept. 1, 2016: Today marks the opening of IUCN's World Conservation Congress, the largest conservation conference in the world. Follow us on Twitter this week at @sanctuaries to keep tabs on the conference and learn more about what NOAA is doing to help understand and protect vital ocean inhabitants like this Galapagos shark in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Learn more about NOAA's participation in the conference here. (Photo: Richard Pyle/Bishop Museum and NOAA)
photo of a beach scene with palm strees and green mountains
Aug. 31, 2016: What's beneath the waves of the beautiful National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa? The six areas of the sanctuary protect extensive coral reefs -- including some of the oldest and largest Porites coral heads in the world -- deep water reefs, hydrothermal vent communities and rare marine archaeological resources. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of the pink coral, sponges and fish
Aug. 30, 2016: Located off the coast of Georgia, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary protects what's known as a "live-bottom reef." The sanctuary's scattered rocky outcroppings and ledges provide homes for a variety of invertebrates. These sea stars, fan corals, sponges, barnacles, crabs, lobsters, snails, shrimp and other organisms form a dense carpet of living creatures -- the sanctuary's "live bottom." (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo of the ocean and cliffs
Aug. 29, 2016: Enjoy a misty Monday morning at Cape Flattery in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Located within the Makah Tribal Reservation, Cape Flattery is the northwesternmost point in the contiguous United States. From here, you can look out onto the northern part of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- and if you're lucky, you might just spot a whale swimming past! (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA)
photo of dolphins
Aug. 28, 2016: Are you enjoying the weekend as much as these common dolphins in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: Ken Tatro)
photo of a diver and a nudibranch
Aug. 27, 2016: NOAA diver Dr. Steve Lonhart sizes up a hooded nudibranch in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Also known as the lion's mane nudibranch, the hooded nudibranch sweeps its raised hood through the water to catch food, then contracts it to force the food into its mouth. On this dive in 2011, researchers spotted a group of hooded nudibranchs with hoods exceeding 15 centimeters in diameter! (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of a underwater crab
Aug. 26, 2016: Big news! Today, President Obama announced that Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, located in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, will expand from 139,818 square miles to 582,578 square miles. That’s bigger than the total land area of the state of Alaska -- and makes Papahānaumokuākea larger than any other land or ocean conservation area on Earth. Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck
Aug. 25, 2016: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! Located in Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects one of the best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks in the United States. The wooden bulk freighter D.M. Wilson is one such wreck. D.M. Wilson was headed for Milwaukee with a load of coal when it sprang a leak and began sinking. The steamers Hudson and Samuel Mitchell took it in tow but it foundered in 40 feet of water two miles north of Thunder Bay Island; the crew was rescued by a fourth ship. The Wilson was broken up by a gale 10 days later and much of the machinery was later salvaged. Still, most of the Wilson's hull remains intact -- and dive-able -- today. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a whale breaching
Aug. 24, 2016: Look out below! A humpback whale breaches in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Though humpback whales are relatively slow swimmers, able to swim at about 15 miles per hour but averaging only two to nine miles per hour, they're amazing acrobats. From summer through fall, humpback whales are quite active in Stellwagen Bank waters, giving visitors a great chance to glimpse this incredible behavior! (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA)
photo of diver and bright coral
Aug. 23, 2016: Travel 23 miles west from the Point Reyes Lighthouse in California and dip down 115 feet beneath the surface of the Pacific Ocean, and you're in for a real treat. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary protects the hidden treasure of Cordell Bank, a rocky reef that hosts a bright and lively community of marine life. While the depth, currents, and changeable conditions around Cordell Bank mean that we don't recommend diving in the sanctuary, you can learn about the marvels it protects at cordellbank.noaa.gov. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) Point Reyes National Seashore
photo of scientists taking selfies
Aug. 22, 2016: What about a science selfie? Here, NOAA divers and scientists Steve Lonhart (right) and Bill Goodwin (left) snap a quick selfie during a safety stop in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo of bright corals
Aug. 21, 2016: Tomorrow around 6pm PST/9pm EST, we'll be teaming up with Nautilus Live to explore the wreck of the USS Independence in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- and you can watch the exploration in real time! This World War II era naval ship and former aircraft carrier was once used in the atomic tests at Bikini Atoll in the Pacific. Independence was scuttled offshore of San Francisco in 1951, rediscovered as the deepest shipwreck in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, and acoustically mapped by NOAA in 2015 using autonomous underwater vehicles. Resting in 2,600 feet of water off California's Farallon Islands, the carrier is amazingly intact, with its hull and flight deck clearly visible, and what appears to be a plane in the carrier's hangar bay. We can't wait to see what the first visual survey of this wreck reveals! You can watch the expedition live at nautiluslive.org and learn more about the USS Independence here. (Photo: U.S. Navy, National Archives, 80-74436)
photo of bright corals
Aug. 20, 2016: Even the deep sea can have bright colors! This spring, scientists from NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research explored the deep waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. While exploring the waters of Castellano Seamount, the Deep Discoverer ROV came across this group of brisingid sea stars -- one of the largest aggregations on these sea stars that anyone on the ship had ever seen! (Photo: Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana)
photo of a goliath grouper
Aug. 19, 2016: Our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest has officially come to a close, but thank you to all who submitted photos to this year's contest! We love seeing all the ways in which YOU enjoy your sanctuaries -- and the species you encounter. This goliath grouper was photographed by David Gilchrist, visitor to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Goliath groupers can reach up to 800 pounds! Talk about a big fish. (Photo: David Gilchrist)
photo of an octopus hiding in pink coral
Aug. 18, 2016: Can you spot the sneaky octopus tucking itself among the hydrocoral at Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary? The deep-sea environment of Cordell Bank supports a highly productive marine ecosystem home to invertebrates, fishes, and marine mammals alike. Learn more here. (Photo: Matt Vieta/BAUE)
photo of a brown bird with bright green eyes
Aug. 17, 2016: Drumroll please! 1st place winner in the "Sanctuary Life" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest goes to Christina Parsons, with this incredible photo of a Brandt's cormorant in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Those eyes are captivating! Brandt's cormorants breed all along the Pacific coast, making them inhabitants of several of our marine sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay and Channel Islands national marine sanctuaries. (Photo: Christina Parsons)
photo of a bright green anemone
Aug. 16, 2016: The 2nd place winner in the "Sanctuary Life" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest is Evan Barba! Evan, visitor to Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, photographed this sunburst anemone (Anthopleura sola) on a dive near Santa Cruz Island when he made a safety stop. Though anemones like this individual tend to collect sediment and debris over time, this one was found on a near-vertical rock face, leaving its beautiful coloration and patterning within easy view! (Photo: Evan Barba)
photo of a photo of white bird flying
Aug. 15, 2016: This week, we're celebrating the winning photos of the "Sanctuary Life" category in the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! Our third place entry was taken by Andrew Sullivan-Haskins in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This gorgeous shot depicts a white tern, or Manu-o-Kū in Hawaiian, soaring over Kure Atoll. Papahānaumokuākea attracts some 14 million seabirds seasonally, including white terns, making it the largest tropical seabird rookery in the world! (Photo: Andrew Sullivan-Haskins)
photo of a photo of colorful coral
Aug. 14, 2016: Coral reefs like the one shown here in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are incredibly beautiful, and they're also critical to ocean health. Coral reefs support more species per unit area than any other marine environment! They also help protect people and the places we live by serving as a buffer to protect our coasts from waves, storms, and floods. Sanctuaries like National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa work to protect coral reefs from threats like climate change, overfishing, and marine debris. You can help, too, no matter where you live. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck
Aug. 13, 2016: The waters near Monitor National Marine Sanctuary hold the remains of a number of ships sunk during World War II's Battle of the Atlantic -- including this German U-boat. U-352 was sunk by the USS Icarus on May 9, 1942 and now rests 115 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic. Learn more about this shipwreck. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a warty sea slug
Aug. 12, 2016: Its pattern may remind you of a Jackson Pollock painting, but this warty sea slug (Dendrodoris warta) is an artist all its own. Found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia, these nudibranchs lay their eggs in lace-like ribbons. Though not the most common nudibranch on the reef, it is fairly conspicuous as it grows to roughly the size of a baseball. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a fluffy chick
Aug. 11, 2016: This regal-looking fluffball is a white tern, or manu-o-kū in Hawaiian. This tiny tern was spotted on Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. White terns are found throughout the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, where instead of building nests, they lay their singled speckled egg on a small depression on a branch, roof or other surface. Such minimalism! (Photo: Carlie Wiener/NOAA)
photo of a gorgeous sunset on the beach
Aug. 10, 2016: Drumroll please! First place in the "Sanctuary Views" category of the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest goes to Jason Jaskowiak, with this gorgeous sunset shot at a foaga site on Tutuila in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. The basins in volcanic rock seen here are known as foaga -- they were ground down in the process of making and sharpening stone tools. The sanctuary at American Samoa works closely with the government and people of American Samoa to protect important cultural and natural resources. Check out all the winning photos here. (Photo: Jason Jaskowiak)
photo of rocks stacked on a beach
Aug. 9, 2016: Behold! A gorgeous view of Ruby Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- and the second place winner of our "Sanctuary Views" category in the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest! Congrats to Selah Preskey Martin on this awesome shot, and thanks for sharing! This photo is rockin'. Check out all the winning photos here. (Photo: Selah Preskey Martin)
photo of a school of fish
Aug. 8, 2016: This week we're celebrating the winners of the "Sanctuary Views" category of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest. Today, our third place entry comes from Daryl Duda, visitor to Molasses Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. French, bluestriped, caesar, and Spanish grunts, yellow goatfish, and gray, lane, and mahogany snappers all swim together in this gorgeous reef scene. Congrats, Daryl! And thanks from all of us for sharing your work. What a great example of biodiversity in the Florida Keys! See all the photo contest winners here. (Photo: Daryl Duda)
photo of a monk seal
Aug. 7, 2016: Who could resist that face?! Hawaiian monk seals like this individual are endemic to the state of Hawaii, meaning they can only be sound in Hawaiian waters. With only an estimated 1,100 individuals remaining in the area, Hawaiian monk seals are currently considered critically endangered. Folks at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, and NOAA Fisheries Service are working hard to protect these seals. But everyone can help! Marine debris is one of the threats monk seals face, so by reducing the amount of plastic we use, keeping our trash out of the water, and assisting with cleanups, we can all help these seals survive. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a baracuda
Aug. 6, 2016: Say what?! You can help make decisions about national marine sanctuaries too?! Yes you can! Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has proposed an expansion, and members of the public are invited to share their thoughts. The proposed expansion could bring an additional 15 banks under the protection of the sanctuary, protecting important cultural resources, habitats and homes for marine life like this fish! Comments received will be used to help develop a final environmental impact statement outlining the new protected area. Comments are due by August 19th. Learn more about the proposal and how you can comment here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a baracuda
Aug. 5, 2016: Behold, the barracuda swimming solo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Did you know these fish can swim in burst of up to 35 miles per hour? Pretty impressive for this ocean hunter. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a olympic coast
Aug. 4, 2016: And now, the moment you've all been waiting for! First place in our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest (Sanctuary Portraits category) goes to Selah Preskey Martin, with this beautiful portrait of a photographer capturing the sunset at Second Beach in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Congrats to Selah for capturing the breathtaking natural beauty of Olympic Coast. (Photo: Selah Preskey Martin)
photo of a diver and fish
Aug. 3, 2016: Today, we share with you the second place winner of our 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest, in the Sanctuary Portraits category! Here, the photographer's wife dives on Hoyt S. Vandenberg, a sunken ship and artificial reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Congrats Steve Miller, and thank you for your entry! Check back in tomorrow to see who took first place, and see all the winning photos here. (Photo: Steve Miller)
photo of a diver and fish
Aug. 2, 2016: Winners of our 2016 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 our Sanctuary Portraits category! Cindy Shaw takes third place with this incredible shot of a diver visiting Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Beginning his descent from a dive boat, this diver was greeted by schools of fish surrounding the rocky reefs of San Miguel Island. Congratulations to Cindy! Check back in tomorrow to see who took second place, and see all the winning photos here. (Photo: Cindy Shaw)
photo of a minke whale breaching
Aug. 1, 2016: Oh minke oh my! On a recent whale watch tour in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, visitors had the pleasure of viewing a rather uncommon sight. A minke whale put on quite the show with a series of breaches through sanctuary waters! Minke whales rarely exhibit breaching behavior, and don't raise their flukes above the surface when diving deep into the water either. Their small size, pointy snout and short flippers make their movements quick and smooth at the surface -- what an incredible view! (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA)
photo of a squid
July 31, 2016: Time for that Sunday afternoon nap? This elephant seal resting on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary couldn't agree more. Adult elephant seals like this one may remain on the beach for up to two months throughout the duration of the reproductive season (December through March along the California coast). Remember -- if you see an elephant seal or any other wildlife on the beach, make sure to give it plenty of space! Learn more here. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
photo of a tiger shark
July 30, 2016: The ACCESS Partnership is a collaborative research program established between Point Blue Conservation Science, Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. For 13 years now, ACCESS has gathered scientific information about the distribution and abundance of marine life in the context of oceanographic events like El Niño and climate change. This little squid was found in a May survey of sanctuary waters. Researchers just finished their most recent survey, so stay tuned for news of what they've seen! Learn more about ACCESS. (Photo: Maps for Good -- NOAA/Point Blue/ACCESS)
photo of a tiger shark
July 29, 2016: What better day than International Tiger Day to celebrate the tigers of the sea -- tiger sharks! Tiger sharks are found in several national marine sanctuaries, including Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, where this one was photographed. As apex predators, tiger sharks are incredibly important in maintaining the balance of ocean ecosystems. But despite their important role in ocean health, tiger sharks face a number of threats, including marine debris and commercial fishing. It's up to us to protect them -- and the marine ecosystems they benefit. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of diver and a shipwreck
July 28, 2016: Hoping to squeeze in those last few summer adventures? Head out to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron! This national marine sanctuary protects one of the best-preserved and most historically-significant collections of shipwrecks in the country. Plus, many shipwrecks in the sanctuary, like the steam barge B.W. Blanchard pictured here, are shallow enough to investigate while snorkeling! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of humpback whales eating
July 27, 2016: Humpback whale a cappella? Not quite -- but just as incredible! Here, a group of humpback whales in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary feed on krill and small fish, a food source the whales trek to Stellwagen Bank for every summer and fall. Some pods of humpback whales even practice what's called bubble net feeding, a complex, cooperative feeding behavior where they corral fish into a cylinder of bubbles from which the whole pod can feed. While some individuals blow bubbles, others dive below the cylinder and work to move fish toward the surface. Still others vocalize to drive fish into the bubble "net"! It's thought that by working together, the whales can catch more fish than they would by themselves. (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of an octopus
July 26, 2016: Check this amazing octopus out! This summer, we've teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Recently, the Nautilus' ROV spotted this octopus in Arguello Canyon near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Click here to learn more about the expedition and how you can watch the dives live online! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of bleached coral
July 25, 2016: Where did all the color go? This staghorn coral in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa has bleached. When corals experience stress, they release the photosynthetic algae that give them their bright colors, help remove metabolic wastes, and provide corals with food. So why are corals releasing these important algae?

When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide builds up and acts like a heat-trapping blanket, warming the planet. This added warmth does help zooxanthellae photosynthesize -- but the increased rate of photosynthesis can put these algae in a sort of "overdrive" that doesn't give them time to repair their tissues. When they can't repair, zooxanthellae start to release compounds toxic to corals. In response, corals expel algae from their tissues to avoid further damage. Without their algae, corals can die.

How can we slow this process down and protect our oceans? By working with your community to reduce our fossil fuel usage, you can help protect the health of corals daily -- no matter where you live! What will your community do to help support coral reefs? (Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

photo of a flock of sanderlings on the beach
July 24, 2016: Talk about squad goals! Each winter, flocks of sanderlings like this crew can be found combing the beaches of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for tasty marine invertebrates brought to the beach in waves. Biologists have called their endless beach-combing the "wave chase," as it appears they're playfully chasing foamy waves up and down the beach. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a nudibranch and an urchin
July 23, 2016: Brighten up your weekend with this Hopkins' rose nudibranch! These tiny invertebrates -- only up to about an inch long! -- are found in tide pools from southern California to Oregon. This one was spotted on the very first diving expedition by NOAA divers in the newly expanded Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite type of nudibranch? (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA
photo of a group of northern fur seals on the beach
July 22, 2016: We hope your weekend is swell! Here, a group of northern fur seals haul out on San Miguel Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Behind them, a swell caused by 2014's Tropical Storm Douglas moves in toward the beach. These fur seals didn't seem to mind the sea breeze and big waves. (Photo: Kristin Wilkinson)
photo of a spiny lobster up close
July 21, 2016: Aloha from this Hawaiian spiny lobster in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Spiny lobsters are important predators in reef ecosystems, and are protected in Hawaii's waters during specific times of year. During the summer months (right now, yes!), spiny lobsters enter into their peak reproductive season. To help protect lobsters, and ensure sustainability of reef ecosystems, the state of Hawaii prohibits capture or sale of spiny lobsters like this one from May through August. If you're in the area, watch out for these lobsters, and be sure to give them space during this important time of year. You can help protect reef ecosystems too! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a whale under water
July 20, 2016: Say hasta lu-whale-go to this humpback whale swimming off into the cerulean waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Humpback whales visit the sanctuary from November to May each year to mate, calve, and nurse their young before heading off to their summer feeding grounds in the Gulf of Alaska. The tail of a humpback whale, or "flukes," can be up to 5 meters across! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a moray eel
July 19, 2016: What's that?? Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary might be expanding?? This spotted moray eel may be surprised, but we're thrilled that the sanctuary has proposed an expansion. The expansion would bring an additional 15 banks under the protection of the sanctuary -- like McGrail Bank, where this moray eel was spotted -- offering protection to important habitats and cultural resources throughout the Gulf of Mexico. Now, we're inviting you to take part in the decision process! You can share your perspective on the proposal by submitting comments online by August 19th, or if you're in Louisiana or Alabama, you can take part in public meetings this week. Find out how to submit your official comments here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
July 18, 2016: What happens to a shipwreck on the ocean floor? Often, it becomes an artificial reef, home to all kinds of marine life. The City of Atlanta, pictured here, sank on January 19, 1942 in what is now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Many of these wrecks, located off the coast of North Carolina's Outer Banks, could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a crab up close
July 17, 2016: Feeling crabby that the weekend is almost over? You're in good company! These two Callinectes crabs were spotted in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a boulder in the water in Olympic Coast
July 16, 2016: Happy anniversary to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! From plankton to puffins to gray whales, this sanctuary helps protect dozens of species that thrive in Pacific Northwestern waters. The sanctuary also works closely with the Quinault Indian Nation and the Hoh, Makah, and Quileute tribes to shape policy, research and education programs and to protect the marine environment these cultures have depended on for centuries. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a jellyfish
July 15, 2016: Today's the last day to submit your photos to our Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest! We can't wait to see these special places through your eyes. Find out how to submit your photos here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA, taken in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a diver and a shipwreck
July 14, 2016: A diver inspects the bow of the wreck of the steel bulk freighter Grecian, where it rests in Lake Huron's Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. After unexpectedly taking on water during a trip to Detroit for repairs, Grecian sank near Thunder Bay Island in 1906. Fortunately, its crew escaped in lifeboats. Today, Grecian's bow and stern lie intact in the sanctuary's waters. Explore an interactive map of the shipwreck! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a spinner dolphin
July 13, 2016: Don't let go! Remoras like the ones attached to this Hawaiian spinner dolphin in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary use a special sucker on the top of their head to hold on to larger animals. Scientists believe this relationship benefits both parties: the remora gets a free meal from whatever parasites, dead skin, or bits of food are on their host's body, while the host (like this dolphin) gets a cleaning. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit 14097)
photo of a school of whitespotted surgeonfish
July 12, 2016: What's the only U.S. national marine sanctuary located in the Southern Hemisphere? National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! This sanctuary protects coral reefs and an enormous diversity of marine life -- like these gorgeous whitespotted surgeonfish and tanfaced parrotfish. Learn more about this lush sanctuary and how it works to protect marine ecosystems. (Photo: Kevin Lino/NOAA)
photo of feathery crinoids
July 11, 2016: Crinoids, like these in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, are common invertebrates found on the seafloor. Attaching to rocks, sponges, or corals, these animals feed on microorganisms in the water column by trapping them in their sticky, raised feathery arms! (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA)
photo of a brittle stars
July 10, 2016: Male ruby brittle stars sit atop a brain coral in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, not long before a mass coral spawning event in the sanctuary. Every year, 7-10 days after the August full moon, the reef-building corals put on one of the most abundant spawning displays in the entire Caribbean! Check out what scientists have learned about these events and what they're still investigating. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck and turtle
July 9, 2016: Sunk by a German U-boat during World War II some 25 years after its construction, the wreck of the tanker Ashkhabad now rests in the Graveyard of the Atlantic. Sitting in 55 feet of water, the wreck is home to a vibrant community of marine life -- like this loggerhead sea turtle! Ashkhabad is one ship that could be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the shipwreck at here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a propeller of a shipwreck
July 8, 2016: The wreck of the tug Duncan City rests only 15 feet below the surface of Lake Huron in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Much of the stern of this sunken vessel is still intact, offering divers a unique chance to explore one of the many treasures protected in Thunder Bay. What's your favorite sanctuary spot to dive in? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a sea urchin and coral
July 7, 2016: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is proposing an expansion! The sanctuary currently protects three nationally-significant reefs in the northern Gulf of Mexico, and an expansion could protect an additional 15 banks. The expansion would bring valuable habitats and resources under sanctuary management, and could support several important aspects of Deepwater Horizon-related and wider Gulf of Mexico habitat restoration. Public meetings will be held in the coming weeks to allow the public to comment on the expansion decision. Can't make the meetings? Learn how to comment on the proposal online. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of birds on top of a humpback whale
July 6, 2016: Catch a ride to a sanctuary near you -- like these gulls cruising on the nose of a humpback whale surfacing in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Elliot Hazen/NOAA Fisheries Permit #14245)
photo of a bright kelp crab
July 5, 2016: Got a "pinch" of creativity like this kelp crab photographed by former Nancy Foster Scholar Nyssa Silbiger in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Then grab your camera and head out to a sanctuary near you! Through July 15th, we're hosting a photo contest to celebrate our national marine sanctuaries the way you see them. For submission details and more, click here. We can't wait to see your favorite shots! (Photo: Nyssa Silbiger)
photo of a bright anemone
July 4, 2016: Happy Fourth of July from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries! What better underwater fireworks than this fish-eating anemone in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: NOAA)
photo of an albatross looking at plastic
July 3, 2016: Fourth of July weekend represents one of the busiest weekends for our nation's coastlines -- and as you work to find the perfect perch on the beach this weekend, don't forget the animals who call those beaches home! Amidst all the holiday fun, it can be easy to forget to pick up those plastic soda bottles, lighters, food wrappers and straws you brought with you to the beach. The trash and debris we leave behind can easily make it into our ocean -- and into the lives of the marine wildlife thats call it home. Trash is a major threat to ocean life and ecosystems, so doing your part to pick up after yourself on the beach can have a profound, positive impact on the lives of animals like this Laysan albatross and chick inspecting a pile of disposable cigarette lighters picked up during a NOAA Marine Debris cleanup in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. This weekend, save some plastic and save a life! Opt to bring re-usable containers and pick up your trash as you leave the beach. (Photo: David Slater/NOAA)
photo of a shark and fish
July 2, 2016: Shark Week is coming to a close, and we can't miss highlighting one of the most famous inhabitants of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- the white shark, or great white! Although this one was photographed off the coast of Mexico, white sharks are found throughout the ocean and many depend on the rich waters of Greater Farallones, off the coast of California, for food. White sharks are tremendous creatures, but often misunderstood: we seem to be a far greater threat to them than they are to us, as sharks are frequently caught as bycatch, and they provide a crucial ecosystem service by keeping marine food webs in check. Scientists at Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary are currently working to protect and better understand these sharks. (Photo: George T. Probst, winner of the National Ocean Service's 2015 World Ocean Day photo contest)
photo of a woman on a kayak gathering trash
July 1, 2016: Heading to the beach this weekend for the Fourth of July? Why not celebrate Clean Beaches Week at the same time? We share our beaches with many marine species, and that trash left behind after your picnic on the beach can easily make it into the ocean. So when you're out on the beach this week -- and throughout the year -- celebrate clean beaches with us! Remember not to leave behind trash, and pick up any pet waste as well. If you'd like to extend your celebration and get involved with cleanups throughout the year like this kayaker in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, check out a sanctuary visitors center near you and inquire about events! If each of us works to keep our beaches clean, we can help improve the health of our ocean and protect the species that call it home. (Photo: Robert Keeley/NOAA)
photo of nurse sharks
June 30, 2016: Hitting that mid-week slump like these two nurse sharks resting in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary? Embrace it! Nurse sharks have very low activity levels -- the lowest metabolic activity of all sharks. Nocturnal, these sharks remain at rest on reefs, rocks or in crevices during the day, exhibiting activity only at night when they venture out to hunt for food. Even when hunting, their energy use is low. Nurse sharks sift crustaceans, mollusks and other prey items out of sediment to feed rather than chasing after quick and agile prey! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a nurse shark
June 29, 2016: Who goes there? Just a couple of sand tiger sharks on the wreck of Caribsea! Early in the morning of March 11, 1942, Caribsea was struck by a German U-boat's torpedo while traveling to Norfolk, Virginia with a cargo of manganese ore. The ship sank in under two minutes, and after drifting for approximately ten hours while clinging on to the wreckage, the seven surviving crew members were picked up by the steamship Norlandia. Today, Caribsea rests in 85 feet of water, where it now sustains a rich marine ecosystem for organisms from algae to sharks. This is one wreck that may be protected by an expanded Monitor National Marine Sanctuary -- learn more about the proposed expansion here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a coral reef and fish
June 28, 2016: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects six distinct areas within American Samoa, including Rose Atoll Marine National Monument. Rose Atoll gets its name from the pink coralline algae that grows in its fringing reef, and is home to hundreds of species of fish, coral, and other marine organisms. What can you spot here? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of a whale shark
June 27, 2016: It's Shark Week! And we're diving in with a tribute to the lovable, largest known fish in the sea: the whale shark. Despite their size, relatively little is known about whale sharks. But we do know that they are filter feeders just like baleen whales! They can even feed while stationary, suctioning water into their mouths to feed on zooplankton and small fish. Because whale sharks live in tropical and temperate waters, however, food for these gentle giants can be relatively scarce. Whale sharks often migrate great distances to find areas near the coasts with greater food availability. That migration brings them right into Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary at times, where nutrients from the outflow of the Mississippi River can cause massive phytoplankton blooms these whales like to feed on! (Photo: Jesse Cancelmo)
photo of people in cardboard boats
June 26, 2016: This is a totally normal way to cross the Thunder Bay River, right? Here, teams compete in the Cardboard Boat Regatta, a mainstay of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Thunder Bay Maritime Festival. There are tons of amazing ways to enjoy your national marine sanctuaries! Discover them all here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a man and his son looking at a lighthouse
June 25, 2016: National marine sanctuaries help protect our most important ocean and Great Lakes resources while supporting local economies and serving as unique, natural places where Americans can enjoy a variety of recreational activities. These sanctuary visitors take in the majestic view of the historic Point Arena lighthouse near Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Let us know how you enjoy your national marine sanctuaries using the hashtag ‪#‎ILoveMySanctuary‬, and check out our Get Into Your Sanctuary events at http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit/giys.html! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a man swimming
June 24, 2016: The 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration is this weekend, and we'd love to hear which sanctuary you'll be enjoying next! This visitor enjoys a beautiful sunset surf in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, and so can you. From surfing to kayaking, fishing, and swimming, our national marine sanctuaries are open for your enjoyment. Not a fan of water sports? No problem! Check out what educational and volunteer events sanctuaries around the country are offering this weekend! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)
photo of a vampire squid
June 23, 2016: What makes this squid such a special sight? Vampire squid lack ink sacks. Rather than ejecting ink in defense, these squid expel a bioluminescent mucus from their arm tips when they sense a threat! Named for its dark color and red-ringed eyes, this juvenile vampire squid surprised researchers ascending from a mission in Sur Ridge in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA/MBARI) — with Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI).
photo of an octopus
June 22, 2016: A day octopus or he’e mauli (in Hawaiian), sits pretty at Kure Atoll in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Many cephalopods have special cells in their skin tissue called chromatophores that enable them to change color very rapidly. A part of their neuromuscular system, these cells receive signals from the environment that an octopus can use to inform color change. Octopodes of this particular species can change color almost instantly as they move over their environment, making them nearly invisible to predators! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
June 21, 2016: It's Cephalopod Week, and all week we'll be sharing photos of these miracle mollusks! Today, check out this octopus that Nautilus Live spotted on a recent ROV dive near Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. We've teamed up with the E/V Nautilus to explore the deep habitats of many of our West Coast national marine sanctuaries this summer. Learn more and watch livestreams of the dives at nautiluslive.org! (Photo: OET/NOAA)
photo of a woman fishing
June 20, 2016: We're reeling with excitement for the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration this weekend, June 25th and 26th! Whether you love fishing, boating, kayaking, or walks on the beach, national marine sanctuaries are open for your enjoyment. Check out all of the events planned for this year's Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration here and let us know which sanctuary will be your recreation destination this summer! (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA, taken in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a fish with red eyes
June 19, 2016: Happy Father's Day! Cabezon are found in national marine sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Male cabezon are watchful fathers, guarding over their eggs until they hatch. How are you celebrating your dad today? (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of an octopus
June 18, 2016: Happy cephalopod week from this octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! The sanctuary protects three special ecosystems within the Gulf of Mexico, which harbor an incredible array of marine life. And recently, NOAA announced that the sanctuary has proposed an expansion of its boundaries! Learn more about the proposed expansion and how you can weigh. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a pinto abalone
June 17, 2016: Pinto abalone, like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, depend on their beautiful shells for protection from predators like sea otters, fish and crabs. But changes to ocean chemistry are making it harder for them to build these shells. What will you do to take care of these precious ocean inhabitants?

When we burn fossil fuels like coal, oil and gas, we release rampant carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. The ocean absorbs carbon dioxide, and in recent years, this rampant carbon dioxide has been changing its chemistry, making the water more acidic. This ocean acidification affects the amount of building material -- calcium carbonate -- available to organisms like pinto abalone. So while juvenile pinto abalone like this one are trying to build their shells, it's harder to find that building material and the abalone's shell becomes weaker.

The loss of organisms like abalone can affect an entire ecosystem, since many animals depend on abalone for food. But there's good news: by reducing the amount of carbon dioxide we release into the atmosphere, we can help these animals survive. By working together to support and use renewable energy, we can protect important species like the pinto abalone. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

photo of a hawksbill turtle up close
June 16, 2016: It's World Sea Turtle Day! Sea turtles like this hawksbill in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary have existed on Earth for 100 million years, but threats like climate change, hunting, egg harvesting and marine debris have made it much harder for them to survive. Because sea turtles are migratory species, we all need to work together to help protect turtles. Simple actions like turning off beach lights at night during nesting seasons, reducing the amount of plastic waste you produce, and being mindful of sea turtle presence when boating can help sea turtles thrive. Let's all work to help protect these amazing species! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of a sea turtle up close
June 15, 2016: Happy tenth anniversary to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Ten years ago today, Papahānaumokuākea was designated as Northwestern Hawaiian Islands Marine National Monument under the authority of the Antiquities Act. One year later, the monument received its Hawaiian name, Papahānaumokuākea, in honor of the rich Hawaiian culture within the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Since its formation, the monument has worked tirelessly to protect the more than 7,000 marine species that call the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands home, like this green sea turtle -- or honu in Hawaiian. Learn more about this special place. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a diver and a school of fish
June 14, 2016: This could be you! From Monterey Bay to the Florida Keys, national marine sanctuaries provide some incredible diving opportunities to explore coral reefs, shipwrecks, kelp forests, and more. Here, a diver swims through a swirling school of fish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Not a diver? No worries! There are tons of things to do in your national marine sanctuaries! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of purple and green coral
June 13, 2016: Beautiful, brightly colored corals like this striking purple coral paint the tropical reef found at National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. But the species responsible for the "painted" colors of coral are actually algae living within the coral, called zooxanthellae. These algae have mutualistic relationships with coral, where the coral provide algae with compounds they need to carry out photosynthesis, and the algae produce oxygen, which helps the corals remove wastes from their tissues. These mutualistic relationships can help drive the growth of tropical reefs! (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)
photo of 3 california gull chicks
June 12, 2016: Chick us out! Three California gull chicks congregate in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. California gulls are just one species of gull that can be found in the Channel Islands. The topography and currents in the area create a biologic transition zone teeming with life. This gives chicks like these ample opportunity to feed! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a feather duster worm
June 11, 2016: This feather duster worm in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary waves its feathery arms to feed. Did you know that the majority of these worms' bodies actually remain hidden in thick cylinders that they form from sediment particles and mucus? The fan part we see here is just the "head" of these amazing creatures that allows them to filter feed. Some fossils of feather duster worms date back to the early Jurassic period! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a humbackwhale eating
June 10, 2016: Look out! Whale watching season has returned in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just off the coast of Cape Cod, Massachusetts. Every summer, humpback whales flock to the sanctuary to feed on krill and small fish, making this ocean spot one of the world's premiere whale watching locations. Come join us for a whale watching tour guided by trained naturalists this summer! For more information on tour companies and dates, click here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a flamingo tounge snail
June 9, 2016: PHOTO CONTEST: Have you submitted your photos to the Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest yet? From closeup shots of flamingo tongue snails in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary to portraits of your friends and family enjoying these special ocean and Great Lakes places, we can't wait to see the National Marine Sanctuary System through your eyes. Learn how you can submit your photos here. We can't wait to see what you've got! (Photo: Dawn Ross)
photo of cliffs and the ocean and a sunset
June 8, 2016: Happy World Ocean Day! Whether you live near or far from our magnificent ocean, we can all celebrate the gift of the sea! From feeding us to providing oxygen, regulating our climate and more, there are myriad ways the ocean impacts our daily life. And our daily life, in turn, impacts the ocean. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas to heat our homes and power our cars, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. Some of this carbon dioxide dissolves into our precious ocean. This carbon dioxide changes the chemistry of our ocean and makes it more acidic, which can make it very difficult for shelled organisms and others to maintain their shells and survive. The loss of even a few organisms can have major impacts on ecosystems and a widespread effect on the health of our ocean. But by working together in our communities, we can reduce the amount of carbon dioxide we produce and help protect our ocean and its inhabitants. From supporting public transit to encouraging community incentives for renewable electricity, there are tons of things we can do to make a difference. So today, ride the wave of progress with us. What will you and your community do to help protect our ocean? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary) ‪‬
photo of an octopus
June 7, 2016: This octopus is going places -- and so is Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Today the sanctuary announced a proposed expansion of its boundaries. The proposed expansion would provide additional protection and management of habitats that are the engines of sustainability for much of the Gulf of Mexico, and for the species that call them home. Learn more about the proposal, and how you can comment here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a kid and a surfboard
June 6, 2016: From surfing in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to scuba diving in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, there's something for everything in your national marine sanctuaries. Which one will you visit next? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a monk seal
June 5, 2016: The Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest is under way! As a part of Get Into Your Sanctuary days, we're hosting a photo contest to help celebrate the wonder of our national marine sanctuaries. This amazing shot of a Hawaiian monk seal is just one example of some of the incredible photos shared by our viewers. This photograph was taken by Michael Kriver while onboard a NOAA research cruise in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! Michael explains that the monk seal was very interested in the remote sensing instruments used on the expedition, and we're excited to hear more about all of your marine adventures! Our contest ends on July 15th, so be sure to enter before the deadline for a chance to have your photo featured on our website and social media. Click here for more information on how to participate. (Photo: Michael Krivor) ‪‬
photo of a purple sea urchin
June 4, 2016: Say hello to the purple sea urchin! Found in West Coast sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, these little urchins inhabit tide pools and kelp forests, where they eat algae like kelp, as well as other decayed matter. Have you spotted a purple sea urchin while visiting a sanctuary? (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of people doing yoga on the beach
June 3, 2016: Why do yoga indoors when you can do it with a view of your national marine sanctuary? Here, a group of visitors enjoy the tranquility of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary at Second Beach with a little morning practice. And from boating to fishing, hiking, kayaking, and even beach yoga, there are dozens of ways to enjoy our national marine sanctuaries. Wish it were you in this photo? Check out upcoming Get Into Your Sanctuary events! (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
photo of a voluteer cleaning up the beach
June 2, 2016: Trash travels: even small pieces of litter dropped far inland can travel down your watershed and into the ocean, where they threaten animals like sea turtles and seabirds. But now, you can help NOAA Marine Debris monitor marine debris so we can better respond to this threat to the ocean and its inhabitants! Become a citizen scientist and participate in the Marine Debris Monitoring and Assessment Project. Check out the toolbox to learn how to get started. (Photo: Kate Bimrose/NOAA, taken in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary)
photo of a goliath grouper
June 1, 2016: This awesome shot of a goliath grouper was taken by sanctuary visitor Dawn Ross in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Have an amazing sanctuary photo? Submit it to the 2016 Get Into Your Sanctuary photo contest and you could see it featured on our website and social media! Find more details and contest rules here. We can't wait to see your photos! (Photo: Dawn Ross)
photo of navy officers folding a flag
May 30, 2016: This Memorial Day, we honor all those who have given their lives in service of our nation. The first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the shipwreck and commemorates the crew of our nation's first ironclad naval vessel, the USS Monitor. Sixteen crew members lost their lives when the USS Monitor sank in a storm in 1862. In 2013, two of these sailors -- whose remains were discovered in the ironclad's turret when it was recovered from the seafloor -- were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: David Hall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of moray eel
May 31, 2016: Ahoy there! A juveline stout moray eel pops its head out from shelter provided by the coral Porites evermanni in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. A moray eel's open mouth isn't necessarily a sign of aggression; they must constantly open and close their mouths so that they can pump water over their gills! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of navy officers folding a flag
May 30, 2016: This Memorial Day, we honor all those who have given their lives in service of our nation. The first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects the shipwreck and commemorates the crew of our nation's first ironclad naval vessel, the USS Monitor. Sixteen crew members lost their lives when the USS Monitor sank in a storm in 1862. In 2013, two of these sailors -- whose remains were discovered in the ironclad's turret when it was recovered from the seafloor -- were laid to rest in Arlington National Cemetery. (Photo: David Hall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a nudibranch
May 29, 2016: Say hello to the painted elysia! This beautiful little nudibranch was photographed next to an Agaricia coral in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite nudibranch? (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a school of fish
May 28, 2016: Schooled! The tropical coral reefs of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, the most remote national marine sanctuary, teem with life. What can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a man cleaning up a beach
May 27, 2016: "The more clearly we can focus our attention on the wonders and realities of the universe about us, the less taste we shall have for destruction." -- Rachel Carson Happy birthday to "the mother of the age of ecology," Rachel Carson! Rachel Carson believed we are all responsible for caring for our natural world, and her dedication to environmental preservation has inspired generations of men and women. We can all do our part to carry on Carson's legacy and become better stewards of our blue planet, whether it's through removing marine debris or reducing our carbon footprints. Here, a member of the NOAA Marine Debris team helps disentangle a Laysan albatross chick in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Ryan Tabata/NOAA)
photo of divers doing research
May 26, 2016: Lake Huron's cold, fresh water ensures that the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are among the best-preserved in the world. These well-preserved shipwrecks are excellent sites for archaeological research to better understand the region's maritime heritage. Here, graduate students from the East Carolina University Program in Maritime Studies document an anchor from the three-masted barkentine Ogarita, which wrecked in north of Thunder Bay Island in 1905. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of pufferfish and seagrass
May 25, 2016: It's Safe Boating Week! You can help to protect important marine ecosystems through safe boating practices. In Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, seagrass beds provide home and food to a number of marine organisms, from fish to manatees. These seagrass beds also help trap sediment particles and even filter nutrients from stormwater runoff and industrial waste out of the water column before those compounds reach sensitive habitats like coral reefs! However, when boating, you can damage this important habitat. You may have seen the damage yourself in zig-zag lines in the sand amongst seagrass meadows where propellors have dislodged seagrass from the ocean floor. Help protect this valuable natural resource by avoiding boating in shallow seagrass beds. If you do find yourself in a shallow seagrass bed, stop immediately and tilt your engine, then pole or push your boat into deeper water. Pufferfish like this one in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary will thank you! (Photo: NOAA)
photo of lincod in anemone
May 24, 2016: Peek-a-boo, we see you! Here, a lingcod lies camouflaged against the colorful invertebrates in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Today marks the sanctuary's 27th anniversary, and we are very proud of the work the sanctuary has done to protect its incredible, colorful marine ecosystems. Here's to another year! (Photo: Robert Lee/NOAA) ‪‬‬
photo of a sea turtle
May 23, 2016: Happy World Turtle Day from this curious green sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! These sea turtles travel hundreds of miles across open ocean every year to reach their mating and nesting grounds. While Hawai'i's green sea turtle population has increased in recent years, they are still threatened by poaching and by entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris. You can help these gentle creatures by keeping trash out of the ocean! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‬
photo of colorful fish and coral
May 22, 2016: Today is the International Day for Biological Diversity! Biodiversity helps maintain productive, healthy ecosystems in our ocean and Great Lakes. The rocky outcroppings and ledges of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provide homes for a diverse assemblage of invertebrates like sponges, fan corals, and sea stars, and attract numerous species of fish like this painted wrasse. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)‬
photo of diver holding coral that had become dislodged
May 21, 2016: Last August, a vessel grounded on South Carysfort reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, crushing part of the reef framework and dislodging almost two square meters of living coral colonies. Fortunately, sanctuary staff were there to help! After assessing the injury to the reef, they gathered the dislodged coral heads and re-stabilized the loose colonies using Portland cement. This April, sanctuary staff returned to inspect the reattached corals. Great news: the 60 reattached corals appear to be thriving and passed the "jiggle test" to see if they were stable with flying colors! (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a monk seal
May 20, 2016: It's Endangered Species Day! The National Marine Sanctuary System provides safe haven for endangered species like this Hawaiian monk seal in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Hawaiian monk seals are critically endangered: fewer than 1,100 remain in the wild. Threats of marine debris and starvation continue to impact monk seal populations, but Papahānaumokuākea and NOAA Fisheries Service work hard to combat these threats and protect monk seals throughout the Hawaiian islands. Learn how you can help protect this endangered species here. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of diver and wreck
May 19, 2016: Located in Lake Huron, just offshore from Alpena, Michigan, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is home to an incredible collection of shipwrecks. Collectively, these wrecks tell the story of over 200 years of shipping and commerce throughout the Great Lakes. The wreck of New Orleans, a wooden side wheel steamboat pictured here, found its watery grave on June 14th, 1849, after running into a reef during a dense fog at Thunder Bay. Local fisherman helped all passengers transfer safely to shore, but strong winds and waves claimed the steamboat only days after. Learn more about the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of reef with pink algae
May 18, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! This little whale and its mother are two of only about 500 North Atlantic right whales alive today. From December through March, these highly endangered whales bear their young in the coastal waters of Georgia and northern Florida, near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. And in spring, summer and fall, North Atlantic right whales feed in a large swath of ocean from New York to Nova Scotia. Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, just off the coast of Cape Cod, is a particularly popular feeding spot for this endangered whale species! By working together, marine protected areas like these can help endangered North Atlantic right whales survive. (Photo: Florida FWC, taken under NOAA permit #15488) ‬
photo of reef with pink algae
May 17, 2016: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. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‬
photo of a diver and a uboat
May 16, 2016: Designated in 1975, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was the first established national marine sanctuary. Now, NOAA is considering expanding the sanctuary to protect other historic shipwrecks. U-701, a German U-boat sunk by a U.S. Army Air Force Hudson during World War II, is one ship that could be protected by an expanded sanctuary. Learn more about this shipwreck at here. (Photo: Steve Sellers/NOAA) ‬
photo of an octopus
May 15, 2016: What? The weekend is over already?! This octopus in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary looks about as surprised as we are. Embrace this new week with the powerful eight arms of an octopus! (Photo: NURC/UNCW/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of terns
May 14, 2016: Today is International Migratory Bird Day! This common tern and its chicks were photographed not far from Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, in Monomoy National Wildlife Refuge. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, millions of North American birds like the common tern were killed for their feathers. Feather-hunters often captured adult birds sitting still on nests because they were an easy target. But there's good news: the Migratory Bird Treaty Act in combination with the creation of federally-protected areas like national marine sanctuaries, national parks, and national wildlife refuges, have protected critical food and nesting habitats for migratory birds from sea to shining sea. (Photo: USFWS) ‪‬
photo of a roseate spoonbill
May 13, 2016: Shearwaters, like this one in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, fly close to the ocean's surface to pick up the scent of prey near the water's surface with their incredible sense of smell. This year, researchers at Stellwagen Bank will satellite tag 10 great shearwaters to study their movement. You can help out with the project by naming a shearwater to help scientists keep track of individual birds! Name submissions are due THIS SUNDAY. Learn how you can submit a name here. (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of a roseate spoonbill
May 12, 2016: Who needs a fork when you have a spoon? Roseate spoonbills can be spotted in the mangroves of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This bizarre and beautiful bird swishes its unique bill back and forth to scoop up water and filter out minnows, small crustaceans and insects to eat. (Photo: USFWS) ‪‬
photo of 2 birds skimming the water
May 11, 2016: No fishing net required! Black skimmers have an uncommonly long lower mandible, which they use to skim the water. When they hit a fish, their bill snaps shut immediately to grab the fish. These seabirds can be found in national marine sanctuaries throughout the southeast United States. Have you spotted one? (Photo: Douglas Barnum/USGS)
photo of brown pelicans
May 10, 2016: Conservation success: In the early 1970s, brown pelicans were almost extinct. The pesticide DDT had made its way into the ocean food web through storm runoff, and when pelicans ate contaminated fish, the eggs they laid had perilously thin shells. But the ban of DDT and other pesticides has given birds like the brown pelican the opportunity to rebound. Now these birds can be found in abundance in many West Coast national marine sanctuaries! Take a moment with us this week and enjoy the richness birds offer our blue planet. (Photo: Roy W. Lowe/USFWS)
photo of a red bird
May 9, 2016: This scarlet tanager found "sanctuary" on the R/V Manta in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary during its long migration. Tanagers may travel as far north as Canada to reach their nesting sites. Thanks to the International Migratory Bird Treaty, colorful migratory songbirds like this one are protected from human threats. We're always pleased to see them dropping by in national marine sanctuaries! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)
photo of a white bird with a fish in it's mouth
May 8, 2016: Within the safeguarded waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, white terns are able to gather a bountiful feast of small fish and squid. This abundance of prey is critical for raising healthy chicks, who are fed whole squid or fish every three hours after hatching! Unlike many seabirds, white terns feed their chicks whole food items rather than regurgitated food. (Photo: C. Cornett/USFWS) 
photo of colorful tunicates
May 7, 2016: This amazing, vibrant community of tunicates in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary has an interesting tie to humans. Though they're invertebrates, tunicates are more closely related to vertebrates than most other invertebrate species. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪
photo of flounder
May 6, 2016: Once the loyal sidekick of Capfin America, the Winter Soldier -- er, we mean winter flounder -- is skilled at lying in wait on the sea floor of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Those crabs and shrimps never knew what hit them. (Photo: Deborah Marx/NOAA) (Photo: NOAA)
photo of diver and wreck
May 5, 2016: A diver inspects the wreck of a Curtiss SB2C Helldiver at rest in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This wreck is just one example of WWII history that can be found in the sanctuary. Discovered in 2010 by local dive shop owner Brad Varney, the wreck of the Helldiver is unique in that the tail number on the plane (rarely found) allowed for a speedy identification of the aircraft in its watery resting place. Both pilot and gunner's canopies remain open at the wreck, signs of the pilot and radiomen's safe evacuation from the aircraft. Learn more about WWII history in the sanctuary and diving in sanctuaries. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of orange star fish
May 4, 2016: May the 4th be with you on this fine Star Wars Day! Looks like the force wasn't quite strong enough with this spiny red sea star being attacked by a sun star in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Ehrm, does that make the sun star a death star? (Photo: Ed Bowlby/NOAA)
photo of people looking for whales
May 3, 2016: Gather 'round and get out those binoculars! With the help of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and a naturalist from Stewards of the Coast and Redwoods, these students from Monte Rio School had the opportunity to see a gray whale during an Every Kid in a Park field trip. Through Every Kid In A Park, all fourth graders and their families have a unique opportunity to enjoy our country's natural wonders and protected places. Learn more here. (Photo: Jennifer Stock/NOAA)
photo of people kayaking
May 2, 2016: Where can you find incredible views, abundant wildlife, and amazing kayaking opportunities? Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! This Southern California sanctuary holds the promise of amazing adventure. Grab a paddle and hit the water on your own kayaking adventure this summer! Click here for more information. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a white rose that is nudibranch eggs
May 1, 2016: Catch a wave in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary this week! As a part of National Travel and Tourism Week, we'll be celebrating some of the adventures you can find on a trip to one of your national marine sanctuaries. Whether you're into surfing, kayaking, diving or wildlife watching, there's a pristine spot in one of our sanctuaries just for you. So pack a bag and head out the door! It's time to get into your sanctuary. Click here to learn more. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)
photo of a white rose that is nudibranch eggs
Apr. 30, 2016: This may look like a yellow rose, but it's actually a ribbon of nudibranch eggs found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! A single ribbon like this one can contain thousands of eggs. It's thought that laying the eggs in this evenly spaced spiral formation gives nudibranch eggs the best chance for survival. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of yellow kelp
Apr. 29, 2016: Happy Arbor Day! National marine sanctuaries may not have trees, but they do have kelp forests that serve as crucial habitats for many marine animals. Nancy Foster Scholar alumna Nyssa Silbiger snapped this amazing photo of giant kelp (Macrocystis pyrifera) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Nyssa Silbiger)
photo of waves and a colorful dark sky
Apr. 28, 2016: National marine sanctuaries don't only protect special places in the ocean -- they also protect Great Lakes waters like those of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, located in Lake Huron. And now, NOAA is considering an area in Lake Michigan for designation as a national marine sanctuary! The proposed Wisconsin - Lake Michigan site spans an 875-square-mile area that contains an extraordinary collection of some 39 shipwrecks. Learn more about the proposed site here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of whales
Apr. 27, 2016: Hawai'i is the only state in the United States where humpback whales go to mate, calve and nurse their young. Here, a humpback whale and calf glide gracefully through the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. It's thought that humpback whales might prefer the waters off the shores of Hawai'i during mating season because of the water's warmth, underwater visibility, and the lack of natural predators. But because calves often rest just beneath the water's surface, calves in these waters are particularly vulnerable to boat strikes. Next time you're visiting Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, you can help protect these amazing creatures by reporting any injured or entangled whales to NOAA's 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. (Photo: J. Moore/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of a manta ray
Apr. 26, 2016: Don't be fooled by their enormous size -- manta rays eat tiny plankton! Each manta ray has unique markings on its underside, helping researchers in places like Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary identify each individual. Learn more about manta monitoring in the sanctuary here. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of whales
Apr. 25, 2016: Whale hello there! Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Dr. Sarah Swope took this amazing photo of lunge feeding humpback whales. Each summer and fall, humpback whales visit the sanctuary in search of krill and small fish. Have you taken an awesome photo in your national marine sanctuaries? Click here to learn how you could see it featured on our social media. (Photo: Sarah Swope)
photo of an albatross looking at a toothbrush on the beach
Apr. 24, 2016: Trash travels: every year, several NOAA offices collaborate to support a marine debris removal effort in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Last year, the Marine Debris team removed 705 toothbrushes and personal care items from the shorelines of Midway Atoll -- and this year they continue to find similar items. Follow their cleanup efforts on our Instagram (@noaasanctuaries) and learn how you can help at here. (Photo: David Slater/NOAA PIFSC CREP) ‪‬‬

photo of white bird with blue eyes
Apr. 23, 2016: Look at those baby blues! Capable of surviving in many different habitats, the white ibis is just one bird species that can be found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. These birds use their long bills to probe for prey like crustaceans and small fish in shallow water. What other birds have you seen in the area? (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of colorful coral and fish
Apr. 22, 2016: Happy Earth Day! Beneath the waves, you can find amazing biodiversity in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. What are you doing today to celebrate and protect our Earth? Photo: Clinton Bauder/BAUE

fish swimming around the wreck of the HMT Bedfordshire
Apr. 21, 2016: This isn't a natural reef -- it's a shipwreck! On May 12, 1942, the HMT Bedfordshire was hit by a German U-boat's torpedo in what is now known as the Graveyard of the Atlantic. The torpedo prompted a massive explosion nearly lifted the small vessel out of the water, sinking it immediately. Sadly, no Bedfordshire sailors survived that day. Now, the wreck lies under 105 feet of water and supports new life like fish and marine invertebrates. Some shipwrecks within the Graveyard of the Atlantic could be protected by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary in the future, as the sanctuary has recently proposed a boundary expansion. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a sunset
Apr. 20, 2016: Is there anything better than watching the sunset from Santa Cruz Island? Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary and Channel Islands National Park overlap in the waters surrounding these beautiful islands off the coast of Southern California. By working together, the sanctuary and park ensure that these waters and their inhabitants -- like elephant seals, blue and humpback whales, and seabirds -- are protected for future generations. Learn more here. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)
photo of a beach with palm trees
Apr. 19, 2016: Summer is almost here! And we can hear the waves calling in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Located among the culturally-rich islands of Polynesia, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is thought to support the greatest diversity of life in the National Marine Sanctuary System. Find a tropical mid-week escape and learn more about the amazing marine life in the sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a painting of a bright orange fish
Apr. 18, 2016: When she isn't in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary studying the distribution of demersal fish relative to deep-water corals, Nancy Foster Scholar Emily Aiken puts her work to canvas, painting images inspired by the deep-sea communities she studies. This beautiful painting is of a starry rockfish! Are you similarly inspired to pursue a career in research with a degree in oceanography, marine biology, or other sciences related to ocean and coastal environments? Learn more about the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship program here. (Image: Emily Aiken)
photo of a bat sea star
Apr. 17, 2016: It's Bat Appreciation Day! And while flying bats play an important ecological role on land, bat stars like this one found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary also provide important ecological services in the ocean, cleaning up dead organisms and algae. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a scenic shot of a boat on the ocean with huge clouds
Apr. 16, 2016: Have you taken an amazing photo in one of your national marine sanctuaries? Click here to learn how you could see it featured on our social media! (Photo: Karrie Carnes/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a volunteer holding a sea urchin
Apr. 15, 2016: As National Volunteer Week continues, we want to celebrate all the ways in which volunteers help make sanctuaries work. Jim Jewell (pictured here) has been volunteering with the National Marine Sanctuary System for more than 10 years! Since 2004, Jim has been volunteering at Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary as a docent; he also helps train new docents on tidepooling organisms like this sea urchin. We are incredibly grateful for the continued dedication of volunteers like Jim! Learn how you can volunteer here. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)
photo of a pod of dolphins
Apr. 14, 2016: National Dolphin Day is here! Spinner dolphins like this fancy crew in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument practice what is called a "fission fusion social pattern." This means that the dolphins "fuse" to form large social groups of more than 100 individuals to hunt at night and then separate into much smaller groups -- with as few as 12 individuals -- to socialize and rest during the day. (James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a whale tail
Apr. 13, 2016: Every humpback whale has a distinctive pattern on its fluke. These patterns are so unique that they can be used to identify individual whales, much like a human fingerprint -- so researchers rely on these patterns to track humpback whale populations. Every winter, thousands of humpback whales travel to their breeding and calving grounds in Hawaii, and each year, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary volunteers participate in three Sanctuary Ocean Counts to keep track of the visiting whales. Learn more about this year's Sanctuary Ocean Count results and how you can get involved next year here. (Photo: R. Finn/NOAA Permit #15240) ‪‬
photo of volunteers in turtle and shark costumes
Apr. 12, 2016: Each year, volunteers dedicate thousands of hours to helping sanctuaries work -- and this National Volunteer Week, we're celebrating all that they do! Why does Katie Miller (pictured in a turtle costume here) volunteer with Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary? "I support sanctuaries because I love our ocean and want to support the movement to conserve them," she explains. "I love volunteering with Gray's Reef both on a weekly basis and during special events like the Ocean Film Festival because it lets me be a part of making a difference for our planet." Learn more about how you can volunteer. (Photo: Judi Duffy)
photo of scientists deploying an rov
Apr. 11, 2016: It's National Submarine Day! Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) help researchers explore and understand marine environments. The ROV pictured here recently helped maritime archaeologists identify the wreck of the USS Conestoga, which disappeared in 1921 in what is now Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Because of the location of the wreck -- and the high concentration of white sharks in the waters near the Farallon Islands! -- researchers relied on this ROV, rather than divers, to get a clearer view of the shipwreck. Learn more about Conestoga here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of a lobster up close
Apr. 10, 2016: What're you looking at? Good eyesight and long sensitive antennae help the California spiny lobster -- found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary -- keep watch for predators. Unlike many other species of lobster, California spiny lobsters don't have front claws; instead, they rely on a series of spines covering their exoskeleton for protection. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a colorful jellyfish
Apr. 9, 2016: Did you know that stingrays are actually cartilaginous fishes that are closely related to sharks? The round ribbontail ray, pictured here, is one species of ray that can be found in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. By protecting the health of coral reefs, we can help this vulnerable species -- and species like it -- survive! (Photo: Kelly Grimshaw/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a colorful jellyfish
Apr. 8, 2016: Go-with-the-flow-Friday: Though they can "swim" through the ocean by contracting their bell, jellies like this sea nettle in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary often simply float through the ocean, riding along currents. Sometimes, smaller organisms like fish or shrimp even hitch a ride on the bell as the sea nettle drifts through the water. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of segulls
Apr. 7, 2016: Glaucous-winged gulls are just one of the many seabird species that can be spotted in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Omnivorous, these birds forage for fish, mussels, sea urchins, crabs, eggs, and many other possible meals. Watch these gulls patrol the beach on your next visit to Olympic Coast! (Photo: Robert Steelquist/NOAA)
photo of a whale and a photo of elephant seals
Apr. 6, 2016: The results are in: Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary has been named "Best Place to See Aquatic Life" by the USA TODAY 10Best Readers’ Choice Award contest! And Stellwagen Bank isn’t the only phenomenal place in the National Marine Sanctuary System to see marine life -- Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary placed a close second. Learn more about these amazing marine sanctuaries and how you can visit them here. (Top photo: Jeremy Winn; Bottom photo: NOAA)
photo of a diver and artificial reef
Apr. 5, 2016: What happens to a shipwreck over time? Often, it becomes an artificial reef, home to corals and other vibrant marine life. The Ashkhabad is one such shipwreck: a Russian tanker, it was sunk by a German U-boat during World War II off the coast of North Carolina, and now rests under 55 feet of water. The Ashkhabad is one shipwreck that could be protected by the proposed expansion of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the proposal here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a bright orange rockfish
Apr. 4, 2016: Talk about life in technicolor! Rosy rockfish, otherwise known as Pacific red snapper, hang out just above deep-sea reefs, eating shrimp, small fish and even octopuses. These fish live too deep in the ocean for red light to reach -- so while they look bright and colorful to us, to their predators they're a shadowy gray. Though commercial and recreational fishing have dramatically reduced the population of rockfish, rosy rockfish taking up residence in national marine sanctuaries like this individual in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary live in protected habitats that give them an opportunity to recover. (Photo: Matt Vieta/BAUE)
photo of an octopus
Apr. 3, 2016: How do octopuses explore the world? With suction cups! The giant Pacific octopus -- like this one spotted on Rittenburg Bank in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary -- has more than 2,000 suction cups on its eight arms, enabling it to taste, smell, and grip the world around it. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a fish
Apr. 2, 2016: What better place to dive than the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? Tiered like a terrestrial rainforest with a canopy and several layers below, the kelp forests of the eastern Pacific coast support a dazzling array of life. Learn more about these complex ecosystems here. (Photo: Pete Naylor/REEF) ‪‬
photo of a fish
Apr. 1, 2016: The ocean is alive with sound, and this yellowhead jawfish in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary looks ready to conduct its orchestra. Yellowhead jawfish create burrows in the ocean floor and hover vertically in the opening. When danger comes, though, they duck into their burrow tail first! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a diver and shipwreck
Mar. 31, 2016: Dive in and explore the shipwrecks of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! The Joseph S. Fay, pictured here, hit the rocks and sank at 40 Mile Point during a strong gale on October 19, 1905. Now, its lower hull -- still containing a load of iron ore -- sits in shallow water not far from shore, while a large portion of its starboard side is located on the beach nearby. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a manatee
Mar. 30, 2016: It's manatee appreciation day! Manatees like those in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary can munch as much as 150 pounds of seagrass per day. These gentle, slow-moving animals are at risk from boat strikes, but conservation efforts are helping them: over the last 25 years, the manatee population in Florida has increased 500%! (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS)
photo of baby sea turtles
Mar. 29, 2016: "Ahem, excuse us, but could you point us in the direction of the ocean?" After hatching, baby green sea turtles in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument hit the water, swimming out to sea to live on their own for several years until they return to nearshore foraging grounds. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of a drawing of an octopus eating a shrimp
Mar. 28, 2016: Look out, little shrimp! Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary co-hosts an annual student art contest. This beautiful squid by Keegan Gilmore, a 12th grader from Massachusetts, was a winning entry in the 2014 Marine Art Contest! Learn how you can enter the 2016 contest here. (Artwork courtesy of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary) #YouthArtMonth
photo of a starfish
Mar. 27, 2016: Find a comfy spot this weekend and kick back like this sea star hanging out on a sponge in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a drawing
Mar. 26, 2016: Today we celebrate Women's History Month by celebrating the generations of women who have contributed to and continue to contribute to incredible advancements in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields. Many accomplished woman scientists have participated in the Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship Program, which provides support for master’s and doctoral studies in disciplines involving ocean and coastal areas. While she was a Foster Scholar, Andrea Quattrini, PhD (pictured on the left here) studied the genetic connectivity of deepwater gorgonians in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and beyond. Learn more about the Nancy Foster Scholarship and these amazing students' accomplishments -- and how you can apply! (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a drawing
Mar. 25, 2016: Pick up your brushes, pencils and paper - it’s Youth Art Month! Through art, we can explore our environment and all the species in it. Each year, the NOAA Marine Debris Program holds an art contest for K-8 students to help raise awareness about marine debris, one of the most significant problems our ocean faces today. This drawing by Danah L., a 5th-grader from Hawai'i, is one of the winners! Check out the others here. Congratulations to all of the contest winners! (Courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Program)
photo of a spotted crab
Mar. 24, 2016: I spy with my little eye... a red-spotted guard crab! This little crab was spotted protecting its home and food source, cauliflower coral, in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. This national marine sanctuary protects an extensive coral reef system, and is the only true tropical reef in the National Marine Sanctuary System -- and guard crabs like these help protect corals too! In exchange for shelter and food, the crabs ward off predators to the corals like snails and sea stars. You wouldn't want to mess around with those big pincers. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
photo of the crew of USS conestoga
Mar. 23, 2016: 95-YEAR-OLD MYSTERY SOLVED: On March 25, 1921, the USS Conestoga left Mare Island, California bound for American Samoa. The ship and its 56 crew members were never heard from again, and for nearly a century, what happened and where the ship and its crew came to a rest remained a mystery. But now, with the discovery of a shipwrecked fleet tug in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, we've solved this mystery: the Conestoga sank just three miles off Southeast Farallon Island within a day of leaving port. Learn more about what happened to this historic ship and its brave crew. (Photo: Naval History and Heritage Command)
photo of ocean and cliffs
Mar. 22, 2016:It's World Water Day! Whether you live on the coast or far inland, water connects us all to the ocean. Because creeks, rivers, and bays all eventually drain into the ocean, your activities directly affect the health of the ocean and its inhabitants. By reducing the amount of pollution you produce, you help keep the ocean healthy. What are you doing to help the ocean today? (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)
photo of a kelp forest
Mar. 21, 2016: Today is the International Day of Forests -- and did you know that the ocean has forests too? Kelp forests, like those of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, support an amazing variety of marine life in shallow ocean environments. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)
photo of sea stars clingling on a rock
Mar. 20, 2016: Ochre sea stars, like those found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, have been identified as a keystone species in intertidal environments. With their insatiable appetites, these sea stars help to limit the range of mussel and mollusk species. Removing only a few of these sea stars can have tremendous impacts on the health of intertidal environments -- which is why scientists have been closely monitoring the effects of a wasting disease that has been afflicting sea stars in recent years. Learn more here. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a pelican
Mar. 19, 2016: Take a mental vacation in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary with this brown pelican! In the early 1970, brown pelicans were highly endangered, but halting the use of DDT and other pesticides has led to their recovery. In Florida Keys and other sanctuaries, they can be spotted plunging into the water and surfacing with fish in their bills. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a close up of nudibranch gills
Mar. 18, 2016: These aren't plants -- they're gills! NOAA diver Greg McFall captured this close-up of a nudibranch's gills in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Nudibranchs are soft-bodied mollusks are sometimes known as sea slugs. "Nudibranch" means "naked gills" -- these mollusks carry their gills on their backs! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a green sea turtle
Mar. 17, 2016: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Celebrate with some mighty green sea creatures like this green sea turtle. The most common sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, green sea turtles feed on other greenery -- that is, marine plants that grow in shallow coastal waters. While Hawai'i's green sea turtle population has increased in recent years, they are still threatened by things like entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris. You can help these gentle creatures by keeping trash out of the ocean! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)
photo of a whale
Mar. 16, 2016: Whale watching season approaches in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Located off the coast of Cape Cod, this marine sanctuary is one of the world's premiere whale watching locations. Between late spring and early fall, humpback whales and other marine species flock to the sanctuary to feed. Will you be visiting this year? (Photo: Ari Friedlaender)
photo of thunderbay shipwreck alley
Mar. 15, 2016: Located in northwestern Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary protects one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes system. The area is nicknamed "Shipwreck Alley" for the unpredictable weather and rocky shoals that have claimed more than 200 ships over the centuries -- so lighthouses have played an integral role in Thunder Bay history. Look closely here and you can see the "new" Presque Isle lighthouse peeking out over the trees. This lighthouse was built in 1870 and is still in operation, though it has been automated since 1970. Now, the lighthouse grounds and 1870's keeper's house are open to the public and the tower is open for climbing during the summer months. Learn more here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of sea anemone
Mar. 14, 2016: Happy Pi Day! And like pie, many sea anemones like this gorgeous deep-sea individual found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary exhibit what's known as radial symmetry. As they grow, their body plan develops outward from a central axis so that they have no "left" or "right" side. Many slow-moving or stationary organisms exhibit this kind of symmetry. Can you think of any other radially symmetric marine species? (Photo: NOAA)
photo of sea star
Mar. 13, 2016: On March 5th, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer dove with an ROV on an unnamed seamount never before surveyed in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team is currently working to determine the approximate age of the formation using samples collected on the dive, and to describe the intricate communities of corals and sponges they encountered. This sea star is just one of the animals the team found inhabiting this deep sea environment! (Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016) ‪‬
photo of ppeople diving
Mar. 12, 2016: Dive in to Swains Island in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! The waters surrounding this atoll are a hotspot for corals and fish. Because of its large fish biomass, large schools of predators such as barracudas, jacks and snappers swim through the reef. Sharks and schools of humphead wrasse are frequently seen in Swains’ nearshore waters, and dogtooth tuna are more common here than anywhere else in American Samoa. (Photo: Shannon Donato) ‪‬
photo of a whale with its mouth open
Mar. 11, 2016: From spring to fall, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is an important feeding ground for humpback whales. See the hair-like structures inside the whale's mouth? These are called baleen plates, and are what humpbacks use to strain food from the water when they eat! Baleen plates are made out of the same substance as human hair -- keratin. Can you imagine sifting all of your food through these massive structures? (Photo: Jeremy Winn)
photo of a white octopod
Mar. 10, 2016: Everyone is talking about Casper the friendly octopod -- a potential new species of octopod discovered during the first Okeanos dive in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument last week! The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research team found this friendly looking octopod at a depth of more than 2.5 miles on the northeast side of Necker Island, its pale and ghostly figure resembling the cartoon ghost Casper in the deep. Unlike most described species of octopods, this one is equipped with only a single row of suckers down each arm, in contrast to the two rows most octopods have. Even more intriguing is that most deep sea octopods possess fins that help them navigate in the depths, but it seems that this one does not! Learn more about this potential new species here. (Image courtesy of NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Hohonu Moana 2016)
illustration of battle of hampton roads
Mar. 9, 2016: On March 9, 1862, the USS Monitor entered into one of the most important naval battles in American history: the Battle of Hampton Roads. This battle represented the first U.S. battle in which two ironclad ships went head to head -- and while the battle was a draw, it made abundantly clear that the era of wooden warships was coming to a close. Today, the resting place of the USS Monitor is protected by Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! Visitors to the area can view artifacts recovered from the ship and a full scale replica of the Monitor's turret at The Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia. (Image: Library of Congress) ‪‬
photo of a puffin
Mar. 8, 2016: Say hello to the tufted puffin! These birds spend most of their lives bobbing along great distances from land in the North Pacific Ocean. They overwinter at sea -- this one was spotted in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary -- and each spring return to the colony where they were born to mate. (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a crown of thorns sea star
Mar. 7, 2016: Just another Monday morning in the office! In recent years, the crown-of-thorns starfish, or alamea, population has exploded in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. These starfish eat stony corals that form the essential foundation of coral reefs, and as their population skyrockets, the reef suffers. But the sanctuary, in collaboration with the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, has been working to remove them! Here, NOAA diver Dr. Kelly Gleason injects ox bile into the central disk of a crown-of-thorns starfish. This natural substance kills the animal but does no harm to the reef. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a sea urchin
Mar. 6, 2016: 70 miles off the coast of Texas and Louisiana, three underwater gardens emerge from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico. These small underwater mountains form Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, and are covered by coral, sponges, and algae that provide habitat for a variety of tropical wildlife -- including long-spined sea urchins! Learn more about the sanctuary at flowergarden.noaa.gov. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of monk seals on a beach
Mar. 5, 2016: Soaking in the rays: Though they spend two-thirds of their time at sea, Hawaiian monk seals can be found hanging out on the beach when they need a good rest or when rearing their pups. These critically endangered seals find refuge in the islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument -- where they, too, seem to enjoy a lazy Saturday afternoon! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of kids and an adult in a kayak
Mar. 4, 2016: What better way to spend your weekend than with a visit to one of your national marine sanctuaries? Learn more about the many things to do when you visit sanctuaries -- like kayaking in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) Every Kid in a Park
photo of elephant seals
Mar. 3, 2016: What are these northern elephant seals so excited about? It's #WorldWildlifeDay! Today, we celebrate with you by sharing information on one of the most bodacious species found in many West Coast sanctuaries, including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Northern elephant seals were once hunted for their blubber, and were thought to be extinct until a small colony 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. Now, we continue to work with the public to protect this species and others protected under the Marine Mammal Protection Act. Interested in wildlife watching when you visit sanctuaries? Make sure to give these seals -- and all other animals! -- plenty of space so they can thrive. The future of the world’s wildlife is truly in our hands. Learn more about how you can help. (Photo: Mike Baird/NOAA)
photo of an orca tail
Mar. 2, 2016: Southern resident orcas, like those found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, form tight-knit matrilineal groups and are known for acrobatic breaching, spyhopping, and slapping the surface with their flukes or flippers. Staff from the sanctuary and NOAA Fisheries Service are working together to better understand this endangered species and its critical habitat. Learn more about orcas here. (Photo: Candice Emmons/NOAA)
photo of a jelly fish
Mar. 1, 2016: Look up while you're diving in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and you just might spot a lovely sea nettle in the sunlight! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)
photo of a snail up close
Feb. 29, 2016: Sea snails, like this red turban snail in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, develop their shells in layers. For many species, these layers are predominantly composed of calcium carbonate, which provides the shelled critters a tough, protective coating. However, the changes in our climate have caused a dramatic shift in ocean chemistry. When we burn fossil fuels like oil and gas, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere, some of which is absorbed by the ocean. With more and more carbon dioxide from the atmosphere dissolving into our oceans, the ocean is becoming less basic. This ocean acidification can cause calcium carbonate shells to dissolve, threatening a number of shelled marine organisms like the red turban snail. We're working to understand the effects of ocean acidification in sanctuaries so we can better protect these animals and the ecosystems that depend on them. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA) ‪‬
ilustration of battle of civil war ships
Feb. 28, 2016: In a heated battle in the midst of the Civil War, the Union ship USS Hatteras sank 20 miles off Galveston, Texas. Two unidentified African-American crew members lost their lives last night -- and we need your help identifying those heroic men! Learn how you can help. (Image: Tom Freeman, courtesy of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation) ‪‬ ‪#‎BlackHistoryMonth‬ NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
photo of a boy with binoculars looking out into the ocean
Feb. 27, 2016: See any whales out there? Each year, volunteers at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary participate in the Sanctuary Ocean Count, a citizen science project to monitor humpback whales in sanctuary waters. Today is the second count of the year -- how many whales do you think volunteers will spot? Learn more and register for the March 26th count here. (Photo: Alicia Piavis) ‪‬
photo of person on seaweed
Feb. 26, 2016: That's a lot of seaweed! Nancy Foster Scholar Lindsay Marks is studying invasive Sargassum horneri in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. This non-native alga was first spotted in the sanctuary in fall 2009 and has the potential to outcompete native kelp and impact local ecosystems. Lindsay is conducting dive surveys and experiments to learn how S. horneri may be outcompeting native species and whether removal will help sanctuary managers control its spread. Learn more about her work and this invasive species, here. (Photo: Sam Ginther)
photo of lionfish
Feb. 25, 2016: With voracious appetites and no natural predators in the Atlantic, invasive lionfish are seriously threatening coral reef biodiversity and health in several national marine sanctuaries. So researchers in sanctuaries like Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are hard at work removing and studying these ravenous fish! Learn more about lionfish, how we're combating the invasion, and how you can help. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of zebra mussels
Feb. 24, 2016: In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, invasive quagga and zebra mussels pose a threat to both shipwrecks and the local ecosystem. Mussel colonization can deteriorate archaeological resources like shipwrecks; when they coat these resources, too, it can be harder for archaeologists to document wrecks. Because these mussels are consumptive filter feeders -- each mussel can filter a liter of water per day! -- they also deplete the food supply for native species in the Great Lakes. Learn more about these invasive species here. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA)
photo of orange coral
Feb. 23, 2016: Invasive species week continues! Hailing from the Indo-Pacific, orange cup coral has established itself throughout the tropical western Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, including in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Settling on hard surface areas, this invasive coral displaces native corals and sponges. Learn more at here. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of a lionfish
Feb. 22, 2016: It's National Invasive Species Awareness Week! Indo-Pacific lionfish have invaded Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and several other national marine sanctuaries, where they pose threats to both people and marine life due to their venomous spines and voracious appetites. In one year, 1,000 lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish! And with no known predators in the Atlantic, this invasive species can cause a serious hit to reef biodiversity and health. Learn more about the lionfish invasion and how we're combating it here. (Photo: Marsha Skoczek/NOAA)
photo of a sunset
Feb. 21, 2016: Sit back and enjoy a Sunday sunset in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Located north of Cape Cod, this beautiful sanctuary is a world-class whale watching destination and is home to high concentrations of economically important fish species. (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a moray eel
Feb. 20, 2016: Those aren't dragon claws -- they're gooseneck barnacles! These filter feeders are found in the rocky tide pools of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Their shells are made up of multiple white plates that help protect them from predation and desiccation. (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a moray eel
Feb. 19, 2016: Who captures fish raw with two sets of jaws? That's a moray! This spotted moray eel was spotted by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent G.P. Schmahl. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)
photo of marine algae
Feb. 18, 2016: Many species of Hawaiian marine algae, or limu, are found in shallow water. But recently, researchers in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument announced the discovery of four new species of deep-water algae from Hawaiʻi, all of which were found between 200-400 feet, depths not typically known for marine algae. The species pictured here is named Umbraulva kuaweuweu, referring to the "grass of Kū," the Hawaiian god of prosperity and the area north of Maui. It was photographed by a diver at 277 feet deep off Lisianski Island. Learn more here. (Photo: Brian Hauk/NOAA)
photo of whale and calf
Feb. 17, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! This little whale and its mother are two of only a few hundred North Atlantic right whales alive today. From December through March, these highly endangered whales bear their young in the coastal waters of Georgia and northern Florida, near Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. You can learn more about North Atlantic right whales here. (Photo: GA DNR)
photo of coral
Feb. 16, 2016: What's wrong with this picture? These National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa corals may be beautiful, but they're white because they're stressed and have bleached. When we burn energy sources like gasoline and coal, we release carbon dioxide into the atmosphere. This carbon dioxide acts like a heat-trapping blanket, keeping heat from the sun close to the planet and warming the atmosphere and the ocean. Corals are sensitive to temperature: if the water gets too warm, like it did in American Samoa last year, they expel the colorful algae that they need to survive. But there are things we can do: by working with your community to curb your fossil fuel consumption and reduce other coral stressors, like pollution, you can help protect vibrant coral reefs! Learn more here. (Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)
photo of captain of uss monitor
Feb. 15, 2016: Happy Presidents Day! On the early morning of July 9, 1862, President Abraham Lincoln visited the USS Monitor, the United States' first ironclad warship. Union photographer James F. Gibson was scheduled to visit the same day, but sadly arrived after President Lincoln had already left! This photo, one of only eight known photos taken of the Monitor, depicts Captain William Jeffers later that day. (Photo: The Library of Congress) Monitor National Marine Sanctuary
photo of turtle and seal cuddling
Feb. 14, 2016: Cuddle up to someone you love today like this Hawaiian monk seal and green sea turtle in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of whale and calf
Feb. 13, 2016: Happy World Whale Day! Each winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to mate, calve, and raise their young. The sanctuary is a spectacular place to watch these whales! It's important, though, to always give humpback whales and other marine animals plenty of space: whale calves are especially vulnerable to boat strikes as they often rest just beneath the surface. You can report injured or endangered whales to NOAA by calling the 24-hour hotline at 1-888-256-9840. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit 15240) ‪‬
photo of otters
Feb. 12, 2016: It's Friday! Help us out by captioning this photo of a Steller sea lion. Steller sea lions live in several national marine sanctuaries, including in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, which protects one of the southernmost populations in the United States. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of otters
Feb. 11, 2016: BLUE MEETS GREEN: The 2016 AT&T Pebble Beach Pro-Am is underway, and you otter believe it's right by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! This legendary golf tournament in Monterey, California takes place on the shores of one of our nation's amazing marine sanctuaries. The sanctuary stretches along the California coast from San Francisco to Cambria, and is home to hundreds of species of marine life, including sea otters. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of an albatross and chick
Feb. 10, 2016: Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, has a new chick! This weekend Kūkuni (Hawaiian for "messenger") hatched under the watchful eyes of Wisdom's mate, pictured here. Laysan albatrosses travel thousands of miles each year, returning to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument each year to lay their eggs. Facing threats on their journeys like marine debris, habitat degredation and invasive species, these amazing persevering birds are indicators of the health of our ocean. Kūkuni truly is a messenger to remind us all to care for our ocean! (Photo: Kiah Walker/USFWS)
photo of a colorful anemone
Feb. 9, 2016: Watch out, fishes! This bright sea anemone is known as a fish-eating anemone, and for good reason. Found in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, its large, sturdy tentacles are capable of bringing down relatively large animals such as shrimps and small fishes. (Photo: Michael Carver/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a shipwreck
Feb. 8, 2016:It's ‪#‎MonitorMonday‬! We're considering expanding Monitor National Marine Sanctuary to protect a nationally significant collection of shipwrecks that currently have little or no legal protection. Among these shipwrecks are many from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, including the wreck of U-701. Sunk on July 7, 1942 by a U.S. Army Air Force Hudson, this U-boat sits in approximately 110 feet of water off of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Learn more about the proposed expansion and how you can comment here. (Photo: Stephen Sellers/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a spikey sea cucumber
Feb. 7, 2016: Don't let the spikes fool you! While their cousins the sea urchins are covered with long, hard spines, sea cucumbers like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa are actually covered with soft, leathery skin. Learn more about sea cucumbers here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of a bird flying
Feb. 6, 2016: Soar into the weekend like this turkey vulture scanning the waves of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of small yellow fish
Feb. 5, 2016: Can you find the bluehead wrasses in this photo of the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary reef? Here's a hint: juvenile bluehead wrasses aren't actually blue! (Photo: Bill Precht/NOAA)
photo of a flounder
Feb. 4, 2016: Did you know that different species of flounder are either "right-handed" or "left-handed"? As a juvenile flounder grows up, one of its eyes migrates to the other side of its head. Gulf flounder like this one photographed in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary are left-handed, meaning their eyes are both on the left side of their bodies. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‬
photo of a whale and a calf
Feb. 3, 2016: Many marine animals use sound to communicate with one another, and many of these sounds are similar in tone or frequency to noise produced by underwater human activities. A noisier ocean may mean that animals have more trouble communicating than they used to: for endangered right whales calling in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, for example, as much as 70% of the opportunities to communicate with one another have been lost. Researchers in national marine sanctuaries are now hard at work studying ocean noise conditions: as we learn more, we can better develop ways to manage noise and help these animals! Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA) ‬
photo of an egret
Feb. 2, 2016: It's World Wetlands Day! Many national marine sanctuary residents -- like snowy egrets in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary -- depend on healthy wetlands and estuaries. (Photo: Nancy Diersing/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of krill
Feb. 1, 2016: They may be tiny, but krill are mighty! Krill are small, shrimp-like crustaceans that are found throughout national marine sanctuaries, including in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where this photo was taken. These little critters are an important food source for fish, seabirds, and whales alike: during feeding season, blue whales eat two to four TONS of krill each day! (Photo: Shannon Lyday/NOAA) ‬‬
photo of intense waves
Jan. 31, 2016: Offshore storms can bring big waves to the shores of national marine sanctuaries! A few weeks ago, some serious surf hit the beaches of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪‬‬
illustration of the monitor
Jan. 30, 2016: More than 150 years ago, the USS Monitor made history during the battle of Hampton Roads. And 41 years ago today, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary was designated to protect the resting time of this historic warship. Happy anniversary to Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! (Image: Library of Congress) ‪‬
photo of shipwreck florida's capstan
Jan. 29, 2016: One humpback whale, two humpback whales...Each year, volunteers in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary join in the Sanctuary Ocean Count to monitor humpback whales in sanctuary waters. The first count of the year is tomorrow -- how many whales do you think volunteers will spot? Learn more about the Count and how you can get involved here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #15240)
photo of shipwreck florida's capstan
Jan. 28, 2016: During a dense fog on May 21, 1897, the package freighter Florida collided with the steamer George W. Roby in Lake Huron. Nearly cut in half by the collision, the Florida sank in deep water, where it still sits upright, with artifacts like its capstan (pictured here) still preserved by the lake's cold water. This and other historic shipwrecks are protected by Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary: nearly 200 vessels have been sunk by storms and collisions in and around Thunder Bay. (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) #tbt
photo of a killer whale breaching
Jan. 27, 2016: Look out below! Orcas are frequent visitors to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, where they are known to breach acrobatically like this one. Did you know that a male orca's dorsal fin can reach up to 6 feet in length, making it the longest dorsal fin of any whale? You can learn more about these amazing creatures here. (Photo: NWFSC) ‪‬‬
photo of a sunset over the water
Jan. 26, 2016: Take a deep breath and enjoy the sunrise from San Miguel Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of man cleaning up a beach
Jan. 25, 2016: This year, the NOAA Marine Debris program celebrates its 10th anniversary. We're grateful to the program for helping us remove and prevent marine debris both inside sanctuaries and outside of them! You can help keep the ocean healthy by recycling, joining a beach cleanup like the one pictured here in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and more. Find out what you can do! (Photo: Todd Hitchins/NOAA) #MarineDebris10YR‬
photo of humpback whale tail out of water
Jan. 24, 2016: Humpback whales like this one in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary are often home to barnacles. Attaching to a whale gives barnacles a free ride through waters rife with plankton -- a tasty place to be if you're a barnacle! (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) ‪‬
photo of pink coral
Jan. 23, 2016: Pretty in pink! Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa gets its name from coralline algae that dominates its fringing reef, giving the reef a pink hue. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) ‪‬
photo ofa diver jumping into the water
Jan. 22, 2016: Ready to jump in? In December Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary deployed two hydrophones that will help researchers gather acoustic information about the sanctuary. This NOAA diver helped affix the hydrophone to its buoy. Researchers planned to leave the hydrophones in the water for a month, so stay tuned in the coming weeks for info about what they heard when they retrieved them! (Photo: Alison Scott/NOAA)
photo of an rov under water
Jan. 21, 2016: Remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) are important research tools in sanctuaries: they allow researchers to get up close to underwater resources like shipwrecks. Here, an ROV investigates the boiler and condenser of the wooden steam barge Montana, which sank in 1914 in what is now Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the Montana here. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)
photo of a whale under water
Jan. 20, 2016: Happy Whale Wednesday! Lean back and take a break like this humpback whale swimming in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. You can learn more about the whales' annual return to the sanctuary here. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA Permit #14682)
photo of an otter
Jan. 19, 2016: In the early 1900s, sea otters were extinct from the Washington State coastline. But after a few dozen were reintroduced in 1969 and 1970, sea otters in Washington have made an enormous comeback: the existing population now has more than 1,000 otters! In addition to being absolutely adorable, these voracious eaters are a critical keystone species in places like Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA) ‪
photo of a nabs divers
Jan. 18, 2016: Happy Martin Luther King, Jr. Day! In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we would like to express our appreciation for NABS - The National Association of Black Scuba Divers. NABS members volunteer their time throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System, and we're so grateful for the work that they do. Here, NABS members map the City of Washington shipwreck in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the organization here. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA) #DayOfService
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 17, 2016: Happy 23rd anniversary to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! Located in the Gulf of Mexico, this sanctuary is home to the northernmost coral reefs of the continental United States, and to manta rays with "wingspans" up to 29 feet and weighing up to 3000 lbs. Learn more about mantas here. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) ‬
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 16, 2016: Happy 35th anniversary to Gray's Reef and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries! The live-bottom reef of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary provides an important habitat for hundreds of fish species, including the scalloped hammerhead (top photo), while the nutrient-rich waters of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary provide critical sustenance for migrating white sharks (bottom photo). Happy birthday to these amazing places! (Top photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA; bottom photo: Steven K. Webster/Monterey Bay Aquarium) ‪‬
photo of a black grouper
Jan. 15, 2016: Hey! What're you looking at? Help us out by captioning this photo of a Hawaiian black grouper in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)
photo of a shipwreck out of the water in mallows bay and a photo of a diver and a shipwreck in the great lakes
Jan. 14, 2016: COMMENT DEADLINE APPROACHES: Last October we announced that for the first time since 2000, we're considering new sanctuaries for designation. In Wisconsin (bottom photo), an 875-square mile area of Lake Michigan that contains 39 known shipwrecks was identified for possible designation. The second site (top photo), Mallows Bay in Maryland, is a 14-square mile area of the Potomac River that contains nearly 200 wrecks, including the remains of the largest World War I "Ghost Fleet." The comment period for these sites closes tomorrow, January 15th, and we want to know what you think! Learn more about the Mallows Bay site and how to comment here and the Wisconsin site here. (Top photo: Jim D'Intino; bottom photo: Wisconsin Historical Society)
photo of a whale tail out of water
Jan. 13, 2016: Humpback whales have one of the farthest migrations of any mammal -- the longest recorded humpback migration was 5,160 miles! Some South Pacific humpback whales migrate to National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, where they mate and calve their young. Their distinctive tail patterns make it possible for sanctuary researchers to track the population. (Photo: NOAA)
photo of large grouper
Jan. 12, 2016: Aw, now don't be shy! Nassau groupers like this one live in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, where they are known to rest on the seafloor and blend in with their surroundings. (Photo: Alicia Farrer)
photo of purple sea urchin
Jan. 11, 2016: In September, NOAA divers undertook the first diving expedition aboard the R/V Fulmar in the newly expanded Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. They found quite a few species living there, including these purple sea urchins. Usually purple urchins spend their time in cracks and crevices, but these had climbed up and were feeding on denuded stipes of understory kelp. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)
photo quadrant around coral
Jan. 10, 2016: How do scientists study ocean habitats in places like Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary? One way is a with a photo quadrat, which can be used to measure things like abundance or species diversity. By taking a number of square-meter photos and comparing the abundance of species within them, researchers can estimate the percent cover of specific species or groups. That, in turn, can indicate the health of the area they're studying! (Photo: Joe Hoyt/NOAA) ‪‬‬
photo of fish and sharks swimming around the dixie arrow shipwreck
Jan. 9, 2016: Conservation win! Since 1991, the number of manatees in Florida -- including in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary -- has grown from 1,200 to more than 6,300. Learn more here. (Photo: Bob Bonde/USGS) ‪‬
photo of fish and sharks swimming around the dixie arrow shipwreck
Jan. 8, 2016: BIG NEWS: Forty years ago, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary became the first national marine sanctuary to preserve and protect one of our country's most significant cultural resources -- the USS Monitor. Now, following years of scientific and archaeological assessment, and in coordination with the public, we are proposing an expansion of sanctuary boundaries to include a collection of shipwrecks that includes many from World War II's Battle of the Atlantic, like the Dixie Arrow, pictured here. With preservation, these resources offer historians, maritime enthusiasts, recreational divers, fishermen, beachgoers and outdoor adventure seekers the ability to experience this unique region and celebrate our nation's maritime heritage.
illustration of arctic whaling ships stranded in ice
Jan. 7, 2016: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! On May 31, 1887, the three-masted schooner Lucinda Van Valkenburg was heading toward Chicago on Lake Huron carrying a load of coal. About 2 miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island, it was struck by the iron propeller Lehigh. The crew were saved by the Lehigh, but the masts of the sunken Van Valkenburg continued to present a dangerous obstruction to other vessels traveling on Lake Huron. Now, visitors to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary can see the wreck where it rests under 60 feet of water. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) #tbt
photo of diver and a shipwreck
Jan. 6, 2016: In September 1871, 33 whaling ships where trapped by pack ice close to the Alaskan Arctic shore. Crushed by the ice, the ships were destroyed in a matter of weeks, leaving more than 1,200 whalers stranded until they could be rescued. Luckily, no one died in the incident, but the disaster is cited as one of the causes of the demise of commercial whaling in the United States. This fall, a team of archaeologists from our Maritime Heritage Program -- in partnership with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, NOAA Charts, and the Alaska Region of the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management -- scoured the Alaskan coastline for traces of the ships, and found the battered hulls of two 1800s whaling ships. Learn more here. (Image: Harper's Weekly/Robert Schwemmer Maritime Library)
photo of bright colored birds
Jan. 5, 2016: Happy National Bird Day! Over 14 million seabirds representing 22 species -- including the red-footed booby, pictured here -- breed and nest on the islands of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. The isolation of the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands, their lack of predators, and the protection offered by the monument makes the area one of the safest places for many of these vulnerable seabirds. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA)
photo of bright colored coral that looks like a maze
Jan. 4, 2016: This isn't a complex maze -- it's a coral! This symmetrical brain coral was photographed by NOAA Diver Emma Hickerson in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
photo of bright colored coral and fish
Jan. 3, 2016: Would you believe these colors occur more than 100 feet below the ocean surface? Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary protects an undersea granite and rocky reef located 23 miles off the coast of California. The annual upwelling of nutrient-rich deep ocean water in this area supports a dazzling array of marine life. What can you spot here? (Photo: Robert Lee/BAUE)
photo of underwater and a town above water
Jan. 2, 2016: Thanks to unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals, the Thunder Bay region in Lake Huron is one of the most treacherous stretches of water within the Great Lakes. Lighthouses have played an integral role in the area's history, serving as navigational aids to commercial and recreational vessels passing through the region. The Old Presque Isle Lighthouse was built in 1840 and operated until 1870, when it was replaced by the "new" one in 1870. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) ‪‬ Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary
photo of an elephant seal
Jan. 1, 2016: HAPPY NEW YEAR! Even this elephant seal is celebrating today. (Photo: NOAA) ‪‬
illustration of the USS Monitor sinking

Dec. 31, 2015: On New Year's Eve, 1862, the USS Monitor hit a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. Each wave sent the ship pitching and rolling, devastating the hull of our nation's first ironclad warship. Leaks developed, flooding the engine and reducing stream pressure needed for propulsion. Finally, the crew raised the distress signal to the USS Rhode Island, and the Rhode Island deployed its lifeboats in an effort to rescue the crew. But with the turret as the ship's only escape hatch, 16 brave men aboard the Monitor never met the year of 1863. Now, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects the resting place of this historic ship and its brave crew. (Painting: Tom Freeman)

photo of a seals on a buoy

Dec. 30, 2015: Serious #squadgoals in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of a green sea turtle under water

Dec. 29, 2015: Happy Turtle Tuesday! The green sea turtle is the most common sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, where it feeds on marine plants in shallow coastal waters. While Hawai'i's green sea turtle population has increased in recent years, they are still threatened by things like entanglement in fishing gear and other marine debris. You can help these gentle creatures by keeping trash out of the ocean! (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)

photo of a monk seal

Dec. 28, 2015: Forty-two years ago today, the Endangered Species Act was signed into law, recognizing our nation's rich natural heritage. Hawaiian monk seals -- found in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument -- are one species that have been given vital protection under this piece of legislation. Only about 1,100 of these seals are left in the world, and we're working hard to help this adorable population recover. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

photo of a little girl jumping on rocks

Dec. 27, 2015: What better way to spend a holiday weekend than celebrating in your local national marine sanctuary? Click here to learn about all the things you can do when you #visitsanctuaries. (Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA) Every Kid in a Park

photo of giant orange octopus

Dec. 26, 2015: When they say giant, they mean it -- the giant Pacific octopus has an arm span of about 10 feet! This one was spotted in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of christmas tree worms on coral

Dec. 25, 2015: Gather round the Christmas tree...worms? NOAA diver Emma Hickerson took this photo of Christmas tree worms in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. These colorful marine worms use their Christmas-tree-like crowns for respiration and to catch phytoplankton for dinner. Learn more about them. Happy holidays from the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)

photo of an albatross flying over the water

Dec. 24, 2015: The food-rich waters of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary make it a major feeding destination for thousands of local and migratory seabirds like albatrosses. A perfect place to take part in the The National Audubon Society Christmas Bird Count! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of snails

Dec. 23, 2015: When visiting Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, marine biology student Mandi Chamberlin snapped this awesome photo of two black turban snails on the rocks of Anacapa Island. These small snails are found along the Pacific coast and live in the intertidal zone, where they graze on algae. Have you taken an amazing photo in a national marine sanctuary? Send it to earthisblue@noaa.gov for a chance to see it on sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue and on our social media! (Photo: Mandi Chamberlin)

photo of a nudibranch

Dec. 22, 2015: Today marks the winter solstice, the shortest day of the year. This is also the time of year when humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to mate, calve, and nurse their young in the warm, shallow waters surrounding the Hawaiian Islands. Click here to learn more about humpback whales in the sanctuary. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA, NOAA Permit #774-1714)

photo of a nudibranch

Dec. 21, 2015: Opalescent nudibranchs -- like this one in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary -- prey on hydroids and anemones, which have stinging cells to defend themselves from predators. But those stinging cells don't harm the nudibranch; instead, during digestion they travel into the nudibranch's colorful appendages and can later be used against the nudibranch's own predators. (Photo: Matt Vieta)

photo of pink anemonefish

Dec. 20, 2015: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is home to the only true tropical reef in the National Marine Sanctuary System! Here in the reefs surrounding Aunu'u Island, a few pink anemonefish nestle into an anemone. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of a sea star

Dec. 19, 2015: What -- you mean the new Star Wars movie isn't about sea star vs. sea urchin wars in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary?? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of chewbacca as a seal

Dec. 18, 2015: A long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away, a mighty sea lion -- er, Wookiee -- named Chewbacca reigned the shores of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. (Design: Carey Floyd)

photo of monitor's crew

Dec. 17, 2015: Constructed in 1862, the USS Monitor was our nation's first ironclad warship. Here, officers sit for a portrait before the Monitor's rotating gun turret. Tragically, later that year the ship sank in a storm off the coast of Cape Hatteras, North Carolina, taking 16 brave crew members with it into the ocean depths. In 1975 its resting place became our first national marine sanctuary -- Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more about the wreck here. (Photo courtesy of The Library of Congress)

photo of birds

Dec. 16, 2015: One common eider, two common eiders, three common eiders... For years now, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary has been partnering with The National Audubon Society on their annual Christmas Bird Count. Seabirds are often the first indicators of change within an ecosystem, so tracking their populations over time allows us to evaluate the health of the sanctuary. Learn more about the Stellwagen Bank count here. Will you be participating in a Christmas Bird Count near you? (Photo: Peter Flood)

photo of a tidepool

Dec. 15, 2015: The tide pools of Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary are perfect places for kids and adults alike to explore marine life. How many sea urchins can you spot in this photo? (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA) Every Kid in a Park

photo of a colorful shell

Dec. 14, 2015: This beautiful shell found in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument belongs to a Triton's trumpet ('ole in Hawaiian), a species of sea snail that can grow up to 20 inches long! Triton's trumpets feed on sea stars and urchins by injecting them with a paralyzing agent in their saliva. Because they feed on coral-eating species like the crown-of-thorns starfish, they are an important species for maintaining reef health. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

photo of a colorful nudibranch

Dec. 13, 2015: What's a nudibranch, anyway? These soft-bodied mollusks are sometimes known as sea slugs. "Nudibranch" means "naked gills" -- those colorful "feathers" on the back of this hermissenda nudibranch actually help it breathe as it explores the rocky reef of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite kind of nudibranch? (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of a pink fish with big eyes

Dec. 12, 2015: Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Laura Shamas snapped this awesome photo of the sanctuary shoreline! Look carefully and you can spot some lounging seals on the beach. Have you taken any neat photos while visiting your local sanctuary? Email it to earthisblue@noaa.gov for a chance to have your photo featured on our social media! (Photo: Laura A. Shamas)

photo of a pink fish with big eyes

Dec. 11, 2015: It's #FishFriday -- and we need your help! Caption this photo of a red Irish lord (Hemilepidotus hemilepidotus) hanging out in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Matt Vieta)

photo of a diver and an artifact

Dec. 10, 2015: Did you know that after #InTheHeartOfTheSea Captain George Pollard returned to Nantucket after the sinking of the whaleship Essex, he captained another ship? Unfortunately, Pollard's luck still wasn't with him, and the Two Brothers sank during a storm in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands -- though this time the ship's crew were all rescued. In 2008, maritime archaeologists located the wreck in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument; here, archaeologist Dr. Kelly Gleason examines a ginger jar at the wreck site. Learn more about the wreck's history and check out photos! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a person tagging a whale

Dec. 9, 2015: How do you a tag a whale? With a suction cup! Researchers in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary use tags like this one -- which typically stay on for a day or less -- to learn where whales are going, how they're moving, and the noises they're making and hearing. With this data, we can better understand whale behavior and learn how we can best protect them from threats like ship strikes! Check out how it's done in our video. (Photo: NOAA Fisheries Permit #775-1600-10) #WhaleWednesday

photo of a poka dot batfish

Dec. 8, 2015: This polka-dot batfish, found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, isn't going anywhere fast! A relatively sluggish species, batfish use their pectoral fins to walk along the bottom and rely on camouflage to catch their prey. (Photo: Southeast Fisheries Science Center/NOAA)

photo of a flying boat shipwreck

Dec. 7, 2015: On this day in 1941, a Japanese attack at Pearl Harbor on Oahu led to the United States' entry into World War II. Minutes before attacking Pearl Harbor, Japanese Imperial Navy aircraft bombed the nearby U.S. Naval Air Station, destroying 27 Catalina PBY "flying boats." Thanks to a recent collaboration with the University of Hawaii Marine Option Program, we now have images of the wreck of one of these Catalina PBYs, which rests in three large pieces at a depth of 30 feet. Click here to learn more about the wreck. (Photo: UH Marine Option Program)

photo of a harbor seal

Dec. 6, 2015: HELLOOOOO! Curious harbor seals often lift their heads out of the water to view their surroundings. They are found in coastal waters in the North Pacific and the North Atlantic. What do you think this little fellow has spotted in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: Elliott Hazen/NOAA Fisheries Permit #14245)

photo of people holding binoculars looking for whales

Dec. 5, 2015: It's International Volunteer Day! Volunteers in national marine sanctuaries participate in a wide variety of activities including diving, whale identification and beach cleanups. These volunteers are involved in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's Sanctuary Ocean Count, which offers the community a chance to monitor humpback whales from the shores of Oʻahu, Hawaiʻi and Kauaʻi. Click here to learn more about the upcoming Sanctuary Ocean Count! (Photo: Paul Wong) #actioncounts

photo of a coral

Dec. 4, 2015: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands is home to 4,500 square miles of dynamic coral reefs. Unfortunately, as a result of climate change, vivid corals like these are threatened by coral bleaching. Tune in this afternoon to learn how researchers are studying the recent bleaching event to learn how we can best protect these special ecosystems! (Photo: James Watt/NOAA) #CoralsWeek

photo of a fish and coral

Dec. 3, 2015: What's wrong with this picture? When corals are stressed, they expel photosynthetic algae called zooxanthellae that they need to survive. This is known as bleaching, because zooxanthellae are what give corals their bright colors. Bleaching can happen when water temperature increases, as it has recently in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and other places throughout the ocean. Because we are warming the earth by burning fossil fuels, the ocean is getting too hot for many coral species. But there are things we can do: by curbing your fossil fuel consumption and reducing other coral stressors, like pollution, you can help our vibrant coral reefs survive! Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA) #CoralsWeek

photo of a diver with a camera

Dec. 2, 2015: The reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary lie on top of salt domes rising from the sea floor in the Gulf of Mexico. While the ecosystem of Stetson Bank, one site within the sanctuary, mostly supports algae and sponges, its tallest pinnacle is dominated by corals and is typically swarming with fish! Can you spot the spiny lobster, blackbar soldierfish, sergeant majors, and juvenile Spanish hogfish hanging out around the ten-ray star coral here? (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) #CoralsWeek

photo of a diver with a camera

Dec. 1, 2015: How do you restore a damaged coral reef? With a nursery! In and around the waters of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, we work with partners like the Coral Restoration Foundation to regrow coral fragments that have been damaged in events like ship groundings. Floating freely in the water while hung on "trees" made of PVC pipes, the corals receive better water circulation, avoid being attacked by predators such as fireworms or snails, and generally survive at a higher rate. Learn more about how NOAA uses coral nurseries. (Photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA) #CoralsWeek

photo of purple and green coral

Nov. 30, 2015: National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is home to the only true tropical reef in the National Marine Sanctuary System. The reefs -- like the pink and green reef here, surrounding Swains Island -- provide shelter and habitat for tropical fish of all shapes, sizes and colors, as well as crustaceans, squid, sharks and sea turtles. (Photo: NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC/CRED, Oceanography Team) #CoralsWeek

photo of a a diver taking a picture

Nov. 29, 2015: Nancy Foster Scholarship alumna Shannon Lyday now works for Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary as a research specialist. She recently participated in a three-week mission to survey and document reef conditions around five islands in Hawaii. Here, Shannon is photographing her dive buddy, Mitchell Tartt, off the coast of the Big Island. Interested in becoming a Nancy Foster scholar? The application period closes on December 10th -- so get your application in soon! (Photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA)

photo of a soft bodied nautilus

Nov. 28, 2015: The nautilus -- photographed here in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa -- is a mollusk that uses jet propulsion to roam the ocean deep. A distant cousin to squids, octopuses and cuttlefish, the soft-bodied nautilus lives inside its hard, chambered shell. It uses these chambers to pump water in and out of its shell, creating jet propulsion to thrust itself backwards and to make turns. (Photo: Michelle Johnston/NOAA)

photo of three surfers running on a beach

Nov. 27, 2015: Satiated and full of turkey today? Why not #OptOutside and explore your local national marine sanctuary? (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) Every Kid in a Park

photo of a lionfish

Nov. 26, 2015: Happy Thanksgiving! Viewed from the right angle, the ornate fins of the lionfish resemble turkey plumage, so "turkeyfish" is one of the many imaginative names people use when referring to it. Learn more about this fish -- and how it's invading the waters of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary on our Tumblr. (Photo: Amanda Sterne/TAMUG)

photo of a blue whale and calf

Nov. 25, 2015: Blue whales are the largest creatures found on earth: they can reach a length of about 100 feet and weigh up to 120 tons. A blue whale heart is the size of a VW Beetle; its aorta (the main blood vessel) alone is large enough for a human to crawl through! Although blue whales are found worldwide throughout the ocean, these enormous creatures are also quite endangered. These two were spotted in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, one place the whales are known to come to feed on krill during the spring and summer months. (Photo: NOAA) #WhaleWednesday

photo of a bird with black winged tips flying

Nov. 24, 2015: This northern gannet was spotted above the waves in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, where they can be found throughout the year, especially in spring and fall. One of the largest seabirds of the North Atlantic, the northern gannet is known for steep plunges into the ocean in search of fish, sometimes dropping from more than 100 feet above the water! (Photo: Peter Flood)

photo of the uss monitor under water

Nov. 23, 2015: It's not easy to map the USS Monitor, a Civil-War-era shipwreck that lies 230 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean! To do it, researchers at Monitor National Marine Sanctuary are turning to photogrammetry, a 3D digital method of making measurements from photographs. But capturing those photographs requires a deep dive on the wreck! Luckily, a few months ago NOAA divers had spectacular visibility for photos like this one. Learn more and check out one of the new 3D models. (Photo: NOAA) #MonitorMonday

photo of a diver behind a sponge that is spawning

Nov. 22, 2015: This sponge isn't smoking -- it's reproducing! This summer, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary maritime heritage volunteers Tim Grollimund and Phil Darche were diving in the Molasses Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area when they spotted these sponges spawning. (Photo: Tim Grollimund)

photo of a colorful coconut crab

Nov. 21, 2015: Woah! This crazy-looking crab is a coconut crab. The largest terrestrial invertebrate in the world, the coconut crab can grow up to one meter from leg to leg and weigh as much as 30 pounds. These nocturnal relatives of the hermit crab remain in their burrows during the day and feed on coconuts, fruit, fish and other crabs at night. In National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, coconut crabs are a culturally important species, as all that coconut makes for a tasty crab. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of a huge rocks and cliffs and a beach in olympic coast

Nov. 20, 2015: Take a mental vacation today with this gorgeous view of Rialto Beach, in Olympic National Park bordering Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. The tide pools of the Olympic Coast support all manner of organisms, from sea stars to urchins, and anemones to small fish! (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of a shipwreck

Nov. 19, 2015: On this day in 1966, the 471-foot Nordmeer miscalculated a turn and ran aground 7 miles northeast of Thunder Bay Island in Lake Huron. Some crewmen stayed on board, but they evacuated a few days later when a storm struck and tore open the ship's bottom. Now, part of the vessel stands out of the water and the diesel engine remains amid the wreckage, but years of storms and ice have broken and twisted the hull. The Nordmeer is just one of nearly 100 shipwrecks within Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary; you can learn more about Thunder Bay's wrecks here. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

photo of a gray whale and calf

Nov. 18, 2015: With one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal -- roughly 10,000 miles per year! -- gray whales are found throughout West Coast national marine sanctuaries, from Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary in the south to Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary in the north. This May, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitor Douglas Croft spotted this migrating gray whale and her calf swimming through the kelp forests of Big Sur. Do you have an awesome photo or video that you took while visiting one of your national marine sanctuaries? Email it to sanctuaries@noaa.gov for a chance to appear as part of ! (Photo (c) Douglas Croft)

photo of a puffin in flight

Nov. 17, 2015: Although their relatively short, broad wings don't make for particularly efficient flight, the tufted puffin -- like this one in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary -- is an excellent diver. Tufted puffins can dive more than 200 feet below the ocean surface and "fly" underwater on their wings to capture their prey. While adult tufted puffins eat their own food while still underwater, they are known to capture and hold up to 20 small fish crosswise in their bills to deliver to their chicks. (Photo: Sophie Webb/NOAA SWFSC)

photo of a ben haskell holding a casper the ghost balloon

Nov. 16, 2015: Happy 25th Anniversary to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! 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. The sanctuary also protects numerous shipwrecks and other important artifacts of our nation's history. Happy birthday to this special place! (Photo: Stephen Frink)

photo of a ben haskell holding a casper the ghost balloon

Nov. 15, 2015: On Halloween, Ben Haskell, the deputy superintendent of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, led a research cruise to deploy two drifters that will track ocean currents and to tow for microplastics. You'll never guess who they ran into on the way home: Casper! Ben and his crew were kind enough to rescue the friendly ghost -- but we wish it had never gone adrift in the first place. Balloons like this are often carried by the wind into the ocean, where they can be mistaken for jellyfish or other food by marine animals. Help marine animals out -- always keep your balloons secure! (Photo: Christian Putnam)

photo of a blue tuna fish

Nov. 14, 2015: The National Marine Sanctuary System is full of amazing dive spots, like the live-bottom reef of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. What's your favorite national marine sanctuary to dive in? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a blue tuna fish

Nov. 13, 2015: The bluefin tuna is one of the largest species of bony fish in the world, reaching lengths of almost 10 feet and sometimes exceeding 1,400 pounds. This important ocean predator is known for its speed, size, and beauty. Hanging out in San Francisco this weekend? Join Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to learn how scientists are tagging tuna and sharks to better understand ocean ecosystem health. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a shipwreck and diver

Nov. 12, 2015: November is historically a treacherous time in the Great Lakes, and many of the shipwrecks within the waters of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary found their way to the bottom of Lake Huron during this month. Take the Ishpeming, for example, which sank on November 29, 1903. This oak-hulled bulk freight schooner-barge was in active Great Lakes service in the lumber, coal and grain trades until it ran ashore and broke up on Black River Island. Now, the lower portion of the bilge is located in shallow water while most of the upper works are missing or scattered. (Photo: David Ruck/NOAA) #NovemberWrecks

photo of anemone fish

Nov. 11, 2015: On New Year's Eve 1862, the U.S. Navy's first ironclad warship sank in a storm of the coast of North Carolina. Its resting place became our first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Thanks to abnormally good visibility during a recent dive expedition to the wreck site, we now have some of the best images we've ever had of the USS Monitor -- and with these images we're creating accurate 3D models of the Monitor. Learn more and check out the images on our new Tumblr. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of anemone fish

Nov. 10, 2015: A special mucus layer on anemonefish -- like this one in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa -- allows them to live in anemones without being stung. In return for the protection the anemone provides, the anemone gets food leftovers from the fish. Plus, the anemonefish is quite protective of its home, so it chases away anything that might be interested in chowing down on the anemone! (Photo: National Park Service)

photo of colorful sponges and fish

Nov. 9, 2015: Can you spot the shipwreck in this photo? If you guessed it's underneath all those anemones and sponges, you were right! Over time, shipwrecks -- like this one in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary -- become part of an area's habitat, serving as shelter for many different species. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a an orca

Nov. 8, 2015: Whale hello there! Orcas like this one live throughout Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. An orca popping its head out of the water like this is said to by spyhopping. Looking above the waterline allows them to inspect their surroundings and gain a new perspective! (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of a sea star

Nov. 7, 2015: Did you know that not all sea stars have five arms? Spiny sunstars, like this one lounging in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, can have up to -- er, we mean more than -- ten! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a diver and coral and fish

Nov. 6, 2015: Did you know that you can dive in national marine sanctuaries? This diver got to check out a sponge and some spadefish in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary; in other sanctuaries, you can explore historic shipwrecks or find your way through towering forests of giant kelp. Learn more about diving in sanctuaries. What's your favorite marine sanctuary to dive in? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a diver taking a selfie

Nov. 5, 2015: Selfie time! NOAA diver Greg McFall snapped this shot during an open-circuit technical dive in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Are you a diver at ‪#‎DEMAshow‬ this year? Don't miss our seminar tomorrow at 11am about tech diving in national marine sanctuaries. Come by and learn how tech divers in sanctuaries are diving deeper, longer and more safely than ever before. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a humpback whale

Nov. 4, 2015: Happy birthday to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! Designated on this day in 1992, these national marine sanctuaries were created to protect critical habitat for humpback whales. Humpbacks and other endangered whales flock to Stellwagen Bank (above), off Cape Cod, to feed, while Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale (below) shelters humpbacks every winter as they breed and calve their young in the waters of Hawaii. (Top photo: Jeremy Winn. Bottom photo: NOAA, under NOAA Fisheries Permit #782-1438)

photo of a jellyfish

Nov. 3, 2015: Happy Jellyfish Day! This lovely jelly, photographed in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is a purple striped jellyfish. But watch out! Those stingers pack a potent punch, even after the jelly is dead. (Photo: Kip Evans)

photo of a nihoa millerbird

Nov. 2, 2015: This little Nihoa millerbird is finding it hard to get out of bed on Monday morning, too! Known as ulūlu niau in Hawaiian, millerbirds were absent from Laysan Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument for nearly a century because introduced rabbits and other livestock had destroyed much of their habitat. But the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service has been working to restore this island's native vegetation, and in 2011, a population of 24 millerbirds were returned to the island. They thrived, producing 17 young, including this little one! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a manatees

Nov. 1, 2015: It's Manatee Awareness Month! In the winter months, these large herbivores are often found in shallow, quiet waters of 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: Sam Farkas/NOAA OAR Photo Contest 2014)

photo of pumpkin colored fish

Oct. 31, 2015: Happy Halloween! How'd you like to run into this pumpkin-colored fish while trick-or-treating? A type of deep-sea angler fish, the sea toad has a yellow frilly structure in the center of its forehead that it uses to lure unsuspecting prey toward its mouth. Fortunately, this sea toad was found 1,000 feet below the ocean surface near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary -- so unless you're celebrating Halloween while diving, you're probably safe! (Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana.)

photo of jellyfish

Oct. 30, 2015: What's creepier than a blood-red jellyfish? A meter-wide one! This is Tiburonia granrojo, which was first described during a 2002 expedition to Davidson Seamount in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by researchers from the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI). How'd you like to run into one of these 2,000 feet below the ocean surface? (Photo: NOAA/Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute)

photo of diver and fish over the monitor

Oct. 29, 2015: The wreck of the USS Monitor lies 230 feet beneath the ocean surface in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, and it's hard not to feel a chill run down your spine when you see this Civil-War-era ship at its final resting place. In 2011, this diver got to see the wreck up close in order to document it, accompanied by a ghostly school of amberjacks. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of crinoids on a sponge

Oct. 28, 2015: How would you like to take up residence in a haunted house? On a recent expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research spotted these crinoids taking up residence on a dead sponge stalk. This perch gives the crinoids greater access to food in the water column. Learn more about the expedition. (Image courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana) ‬

photo of an orange toadfish

Oct. 27, 2015: This is no spooky jack-o-lantern; it's an oyster toadfish! Found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, these fish are known for the loud foghorn-like calls the males produce during mating season by vibrating their swim bladder muscles. Have you ever heard their calls? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‬

photo of a creepy looking wolfish

Oct. 26, 2015: Here's one sea creature that won't be needing a mask for Halloween! Atlantic wolffish like this one are found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. These creepy-looking fish have six large conical canine tusks in their upper jaws, with additional teeth behind them and crushing teeth in the roof of their mouths -- all the better to chow down on mollusks and other crunchy creatures! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a moray eel

Oct. 25, 2015: In celebration of Halloween, we're kicking off a week of spooky sea creatures! Green moray eels come out to haunt the seas at night -- er, we mean, to hunt. During the day, they lurk in caves and tunnels, just like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a swhale breaching

Oct. 23, 2015: And...lift-off! Take off with us into another year of awesome images celebrating our nation's special underwater places. Follow us on Instagram at @noaasanctuaries for more photos, and check out sanctuaries.noaa.gov/earthisblue to see all of this year's images and videos. (Photo: NOAA, under NOAA Fisheries permit #782-1438.)

photo of a jellyfish

Oct. 24, 2015: Did you know that jellies -- like this one swimming in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary -- are 95% water? Lacking brains, jellies have only an elementary nervous system, known as a nerve net, that allows them to smell, detect light and respond to other stimuli. Learn more about jellies at here! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a scientists lowering equipment into the ocean

Oct. 22, 2015: In 1973, the scientific team aboard the R/V Eastward lowered a light and a camera over a wreck site that was thought to be the USS Monitor. The wreck's identity was confirmed by divers in 1974, and a year later its resting place was designated as our nation's first national marine sanctuary -- Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: NOAA, Monitor Collection)

photo of a whale breaching

Oct. 21, 2015: Marine mammals like this humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary are amazing creatures that play crucial roles in their ecosystems. But they're also at risk -- from pollution, the encroachment of humans, ship strikes, changes to their habitats as the result of climate change, and many other issues. For that reason, we're so glad that 43 years ago today, Congress passed the Marine Mammal Protection Act, which provides for a holistic approach to protecting and recovering marine mammals. Happy birthday to the Marine Mammal Protection Act! Learn more on the NOAA Fisheries Service website. (Photo: NOAA, taken under NOAA Fisheries permit #14245)

photo of a scorpion fish

Oct. 20, 2015: Quick -- can you spot the fish? Scorpionfish camouflage themselves with the seafloor and wait to ambush passing prey. This disguise also keeps them from becoming prey themselves, as do their venomous spines that pack a serious punch! NOAA diver Emma Hickerson caught this scorpionfish chowing down on camera in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)

photo of a sea star

Oct. 19, 2015: Stretch out into your week like this sea star (Gomophia egyptiaca) in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa! (Photo: NOAA/NMFS/PIFSC/CRED, Coral Team)

photo of boy fishing

Oct. 18, 2015: It's National Seafood Month! Did you know that you can fish in many parts of our National Marine Sanctuary System? Learn more here. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of sea lions

Oct. 17, 2015: Celebrate your Saturday with a nice long nap like these sea lions in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of a shark

Oct. 16, 2015: Happy #Sharktober! Large numbers of seals and sea lions bring white sharks to Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary each year. Highly effective predators, these sharks play a key role in keeping the ecosystem in balance! In the Bay Area and want to learn more about these awesome creatures? Check out Sharktoberfest tomorrow. (Photo: David McGuire/Sharkstewards.org)

photo of a ship

Oct. 15, 2015: In 1920, the Ituna sank during a storm in what is now Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Now, we and our partners have located the wreck and have used an ROV and AUV to bring back images, video footage, and side scan sonar data of the wreck -- the first view of the Ituna in 95 years! Learn more about the storied vessel and what we've found here. (Photo: San Francisco Maritime National Historical Park, David W. Dickie Photographs, P78-449A.00619gs)

photo of an orca

Oct. 14, 2015: Happy Whale Wednesday! Did you know that orca pods -- like those in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary -- develop their own distinct dialects? (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA)

photo of divers that look like otters

Oct. 13, 2015: Those aren't sea otters swimming in Whaler's Cove in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary -- they're divers! Citizen scientists on a recent Sierra Club service dive visited the sanctuary to help collect data on sea star health. A mass mortality event that began in 2013 has severely reduced several species of sea stars all the way from Mexico up to Alaska. These divers recorded data on sea star size and health, which will help scientists understand what's happening to these sea stars! (Photo: Sherie Coleman)

photo of a containers under water

Oct. 12, 2015: Thousands of shipping containers are lost at sea every year -- but what happens to those containers when they reach the ocean floor? Researchers at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) are investigating! They've deposited experimental units with four different materials -- metal covered in standard shipping container paint, metal covered in environmentally-friendly paint, sandstone, and granite -- and over time will examine how each is colonized by marine life. What do you predict marine life will be most keen to live on? (Photo: NOAA/MBARI)

photo of a bat star

Oct. 11, 2015: 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, including Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of a squid

Oct. 10, 2015: Happy Squid Day! Also known as the jumbo squid, the Humboldt squid is found in throughout the eastern Pacific and is known for its ability to change color and flash red and white! This one was caught on camera 250 meters below the surface in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Rick Starr/NOAA)

photo of an octopus

Oct. 9, 2015: Well that's something you don't see every day! Over the last few days, thousands of pelagic red crabs have been washing ashore in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. These crabs usually live offshore of Baja California, but warm waters, likely linked to El Niño, have transported them north. The last time these crabs washed ashore in the sanctuary was 1982-83, also an El Niño year. Click here to learn more. (Photos: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of an octopus

Oct. 8, 2015: It's Octopus Day! Did you know that octopuses use special cells called chromatophores to change their colors? This one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on an amazing show. (Photo: NURC/UNCW & NOAA) ‬

photo of a shipwrecks in shallow water

Oct. 7, 2015: Happy 15th anniversary to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Located in Lake Huron, the sanctuary protects one of America's best-preserved and nationally-significant collections of shipwrecks. Nearly 100 shipwrecks have been discovered within its waters, ranging in type from an 1844 sidewheel steamer to a modern 500-foot-long German freighter. Here, a NOAA diver swims over the wreck of the Portland, a wooden schooner that sank in 1877. (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA) ‬

photo of a shipwrecks in shallow water

Oct. 6, 2015: One of the two sites we're considering for designation as a national marine sanctuary is Mallows Bay, a 14-square-mile area of the tidal Potomac River adjacent to Charles County, Maryland. This area contains the remains of nearly 200 known vessels dating from the Revolutionary War to the present, including the remains of the largest "Ghost Fleet" of World War I wooden steamships built for the U.S. Emergency Fleet. In addition to their historical and cultural importance, these shipwrecks provide important habitat for fish and wildlife, including rare, threatened and endangered species. (Photo: Don Shomette) ‬

photo of a shipwreck

Oct. 5, 2015: For the first time since 2000, we're considering two new maritime heritage areas for designation as national marine sanctuaries! One of these, in Wisconsin, is an 875-square-mile area of Lake Michigan extending from Port Washington to Two Rivers. The area contains an extraordinatory collection of 39 known shipwrecks, including the schooner Home, which is one of the oldest shipwrecks discovered in Wisconsin. Click here to learn more about the site and upcoming public meetings about the potential designation. (Photo: Tamara Thomsen, Wisconsin Historical Society)

photo of a chumash tribe crossing harbor

Oct. 4, 2015: Each year, the Chumash community crosses from Channel Islands Harbor to Limuw (Santa Cruz Island) in a 17.2-mile journey. Last Saturday, 25 "pullers" rotated into the six-person tomol, a traditionally-built plank canoe of indigenous Chumash design. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary was honored to provide journey support with the research vessel Shearwater! (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)

photo of a shark

Oct. 3, 2015: Is there a better time of year than Sharktober? We don't think so! One of the world's most significant white shark populations calls Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. If you're in the Bay Area, don't forget to join us for Sharktoberfest to learn more about these astonishing predators. (Photo: David McGuire/SharkStewards.org)

photos of a lionfish

Oct. 2, 2015: It's National Seafood Month! Did you know that by eating lionfish you can help reef ecosystems in the southeastern United States, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico? Lionfish are highly invasive species in these areas, and due to their voracious appetites and lack of natural predators, they're rapidly edging out the native species reefs need in order to remain healthy. Save a reef -- eat a lionfish! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)

photos of elephant seals

Oct. 1, 2015: What's small, brightly-colored, and has gills on its back? A nudibranch! This bright little gastropod was found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photos of elephant seals

Sept. 30, 2015: We all enjoy quality time on the #beach and in the #ocean, but no one wants to be bothered while they're out relaxing and soaking up some nice warm sunshine. Have the same respect for the incredible creatures you find in sanctuary waters and on nearby beaches, like these napping elephant seals in #MontereyBay National Marine Sanctuary. Take photos and observe from afar, but be sure to give them plenty of space! #OceanEtiquette #Seal #NapTime #DontWakeThemUp (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

side by side photos of before and after coral bleaching

Sept. 29, 2015: Many people believe that climate change is a slow process, but these changes are actually rapidly affecting our ocean. These two photos show a bleaching event that occurred over just three months in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa!

When corals are stressed by things like warmer water, they evict their colorful symbiotic algae, called zooxanthellae. But corals need these algae to help them get enough food, and once they've bleached, the corals may not survive. The good news is that by doing everything we can to keep from stressing corals -- keeping our distance while snorkeling and diving, making sure they aren't covered by sediment, and reducing our carbon footprints -- we can increase their chance of survival. What are you doing to help these amazing creatures?

close up of bird in flight

Sept. 28, 2015: It may be Monday morning, but this white tern is ready for you to wake up and greet the week! Also known as fairy terns, these birds are found in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and are able to hover in one spot. #Hawaii #Bird #Tern #FairyTern (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

snorkeler near the surface of the water

Sept. 27, 2015: Happy #WorldTourismDay! Snorkeling in Scorpion Marine Reserve in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is one fantastic way to experience your sanctuary. What's your favorite way to #VisitSanctuaries? #Snorkel #Ocean #Tourism #California (Photo: Rocio Lozano/MERITO Foundation)

humpback whale breaching

Sept. 26, 2015: Be a true friend to humpback whales and other marine mammals -- give them their space! We know it can be tempting to get up close and personal with these majestic creatures, but getting too close can be harmful both to yourself and to the animals. Please stay at least 100 yards away! #Whale #HumpbackWhale #OceanEtiquette (Photo: NOAA)

Bolinas Lagoon

Sept. 25, 2015: It's #EstuariesWeek! Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has been collaborating with the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, Headquarters, Golden Gate National Recreation Area, Point Reyes National Seashore, Marin County Parks, and local communities to restore Bolinas Lagoon. They've been hard at work protecting and conserving this amazing lagoon ecosystem! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of mola mola

Sept. 24, 2015: It's not a sea turtle, and it's not a baby whale -- it's a mola mola! Found in many of our sanctuaries, these enormous fish can weigh more than 3000 pounds and are often seen basking on their sides at the ocean surface. (Photo: Steve Choy/NOAA)

photo of sea otters

Sept. 23, 2015: What's cuter than one sea otter? A "raft" of them! Often, rafting sea otters are resting, so make sure to give them plenty of space and enjoy the adorable overload from afar. (Photo: Lilian Carswell/USFWS) #SeaOtterAwarenessWeek

photo of a whale and fin

Sept. 22, 2015: Raise your hand if you love Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! Today this amazing place celebrates its 35th anniversary. What's your favorite thing about the sanctuary? (Photo © Eileen Avery, Channel Islands Naturalist Corps)

photo of a sea otter

Sept. 21, 2015: Join us this week as we celebrate the amazing sea otter, a keystone species in sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Once nearly annihilated on the West Coast, these furry creatures have made an amazing recovery! (Photo: Lilian Carswell/USFWS) #SeaOtterWeek

photo of a giant clam

Sept. 20, 2015: Giant clams are overharvested in many parts of the ocean, but Rose Atoll in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is known for its high density of these enormous bivalves. Much like corals, giant clams are home to symbiotic photosynthetic algae that produce an important source of food for the clams. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA) #noaacleanocean

photo of cliffs and a beach

Sept. 19, 2015: It takes dedication and protection to keep sanctuary coastlines, like this beach in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, so gorgeous and clean. We're grateful to everyone participating in today's International Coastal Cleanup -- with your help, sanctuary waters are safer for all their inhabitants. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of cliffs and a beach

Sept. 18, 2015: Happy anniversary to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Designated in 1992, the sanctuary protects our nation's largest kelp forests and one of North America's largest underwater canyons, which support an astounding variety of marine life. What's your favorite thing about the sanctuary? (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA)

photo of worm on anemone

Sept. 17, 2015: Believe it or not, this isn't a photo of some alien species -- it came from the bottom of the sea in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! The NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research's ROV, Deep Discoverer, caught this polychaete worm resting on a deep-sea anemone north of Gardner Pinnacles. You can watch Deep Discoverer dive LIVE. (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana)

photo of girls cleaning up a beach

Sept. 16, 2015: This weekend, join people all across the globe at the International Coastal Cleanup, a massive global effort to clear the trash off our beaches and make the ocean a cleaner, safer place for its inhabitants. Cleanup events will be held this Saturday at hundreds of locations, including in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Last year volunteers picked up more than 16 million pounds of trash. Will you help us clean up even more this year? Find a cleanup near you at signuptocleanup.org. (Photo: Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA) #noaacleanocean

photo of chicks

Sept. 15, 2015: Help us out -- caption this photo of these adorable gull chicks in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a whale

Sept. 14, 2015: Despite strong conservation efforts since 1935, the North Atlantic right whale population is still small, with only about 450 whales. Right whales typically slowly skim feed plankton at the surface or subsurface, making them prone to being hit by ships or entangled in fishing gear. Want to help the population out? Check out the Whale Alert app, which helps map where these endangered whales are swimming in places like Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary: http: //www.whalealert.org/. (Photo: NOAA, under NOAA Fisheries Permit #633-1763-01)

photo of colorful fish

Sept. 13, 2015: Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary is home to more than just humpback whales. Thanks to the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, we now know that the deep sea habitats in the sanctuary are home to all sorts of creatures -- like this fish! (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana)

photo of a diver catching lionfish

Sept. 12, 2015: Invasive lionfish, like this one being removed from Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, pose threats to ocean ecosystems in the waters of the southeastern United States, Caribbean Sea and Gulf of Mexico. These venomous, fast-growing intruders have voracious appetites and no natural predators, so we've been hard at work trying to stem the invasion! Learn more here. (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of an octopus

Sept. 11, 2015: Happy #OctopusFriday! The common octopus, found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, has arms that are three to four times the length of its body! (Photo: Greg McFall, NOAA)

photo of a monitor drawings

Sept. 10, 2015: The wreck of the USS Monitor lies at the bottom of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Here's inventor John Ericsson's design of an ironclad warship with a rotating "cupola," which was rejected by Emperor Napoleon III -- but later became the basis of the Monitor's iconic turret. (Photo courtesy of The Mariners' Museum)

photo of a shipwreck

Sept. 9, 2015: On October 8, 1957, USNS Mission San Miguel ran aground on Maro Reef while running at full speed. While the U.S. Navy safely evacuated the 42-member crew, the ship was lost -- making it the largest ship, at 523 feet, lost in what is now Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Earlier this month, though, a team of NOAA scientists and research partners aboard NOAA ship Hiʻialakai discovered the resting place of the ship! Here you can see the auxiliary helm of the ship, which is resting on its port side. (Photo: Tate Wester/NOAA) Naval History & Heritage Command

photo of phytoplankton

Sept. 8, 2015: How'd you like to come face to face with this mug? The ROV Deep Discoverer had that exact experience when it was exploring the deep waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary last week! Named Hoplostethus crassispinus, these fish are thought to be curious: while they often retreat into holes when imaged, they typically turn around to investigate the investigator. (Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2015 Hohonu Moana)

photo of phytoplankton

Sept. 7, 2015: Happy Labor Day! Small but mighty, phytoplankton are the laborers of the ocean. They serve as the base of the food web and support the ocean life we love to see in our sanctuaries! (Photo: NOAA MESA Project)

photo of a plasic cup on the beach

Sept. 6, 2015: Squeezing in one last beach trip this weekend? Trash like this plastic cup doesn't biodegrade, and when you leave it behind it poses a threat to animals that may mistake it for a snack. Save a sea creature and clean up your trash! (Photo: Tracy Hajduk/NOAA)

photo of teacher holding a seastar showing students

Sept. 5, 2015: Have you heard about Every Kid in a Park? This year, we'll be working with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and other federal agencies to get every fourth grader in the nation into public lands and waters. This is huge -- because as President Obama said earlier this spring, "No matter who you are, no matter where you live, our parks, our monuments, our lands, our waters -- these places are your birthright as Americans." Learn more. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of sea urchins and other sea life in a tidepool

Sept. 4, 2015: It's National Wildlife Day! What can you spot in this Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary tidepool? (Photo: Elizabeth Weinberg/NOAA)

photo ofa diver and a shipwreck

Sept. 3, 2015: Located in the cold, clear waters of Lake Huron, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary offers visitors the chance to dive into history. Its roughly 100 shipwrecks give us a glimpse into the the past -- like this one, the Loretta, which sank in 1896 and now lies just seven feet below the surface! Learn more about the sanctuary's wrecks. (Photo: David Ruck/NOAA)

photo of humpback whale breaching

Sept. 2, 2015: Happy Hump(back whale) Day! Tonight, celebrate making it halfway through the week by tuning in to the final episode ofPBS's ‪#‎BigBlueLive‬, featuring Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Because what's cooler than seeing whales and other marine animals on live television? (Photo: Bob Talbot) ‬

photo of sea lions

Sept. 1, 2015: These California sea lions are soaking up the sun and getting ready for their closeup! Don't miss them tonight at 8pm EST & PST on PBS's ‪#‎BigBlueLive‬, featuring Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more & watch the livestream! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of dolphins

Aug. 31, 2015: These dolphins are giddy with joy that they might have a chance to star on #BigBlueLive in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary​. The show premieres tonight at 8pm EST -- and we'll be livetweeting at @sanctuaries! (Photo: Bob Talbot)

photo of a sea star holding on to a gorgonian

Aug. 30, 2015: Did you know? Although it is usually reddish-brown, the giant Pacific octopus is a master of camouflage and can quickly change its skin color and texture to match its surroundings. This one was found 115 meters beneath the surface in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Linda Snook/NOAA)

photo of a sea star holding on to a gorgonian

Aug. 29, 2015: Don't let go, little sea star! You've made it to the weekend! How'd you like to take a nap on this gorgonian in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a diver recording on a notebook

Aug. 28, 2015: The sea otter is considered a "keystone" species in kelp forest ecosystems, meaning their contribution to the health of the ecosystem is disproportionate to their numbers. In the early 1900s, the northern sea otter (Enhudra lutris kenyoni) was hunted to local extinction along the Olympic Coast of Washington. But since 59 sea otters were reintroduced in 1969 and 1970, the population has grown to approximately 1,600 individuals! A few weeks ago, researchers -- like Chris Harvey, diving here -- surveyed Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to see just how the reintroduction of these furry mammals has affected the sanctuary ecosystem. (Photo: Nick Tolimeri/NOAA NWFSC)

photo of a seal

Aug. 27, 2015: This Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Northern elephant seal keeps staring at its TV waiting for #BigBlueLive to air. Will you be tuning in next week? (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)

photo of a whale with birds on it

Aug. 26, 2015: "Guys. Stop sitting on my head. Seriously, I'm not a boat." This humpback whale in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary may have trouble getting rid of its hangers-on -- seabirds tend to follow feeding whales for the leftovers! (Photo: NOAA/WCNE, under NOAA Fisheries permit #605-1904)

photo of a giant clam

Aug. 25, 2015: Last week Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary collaborated with XL Catlin Seaview Survey to study the coral reefs of this magnificent place. The reefs in Hawaii support an amazing diversity of life, with each species depending on others -- like this green sea turtle, getting cleaned by hungry fish! (Photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA)

photo of a giant clam

Aug. 24, 2015: Start your week off right with this lovely photo of a giant clam in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a brittle star

Aug. 23, 2015: What's that sneaking out from this boulder star coral in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary? It's a ruby brittle star -- stealing gamete bundles from the spawning coral! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)

photo of crown of thorns starfish

Aug. 22, 2015: When diving in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, NOAA diver Mitchell Tartt took this photo of a crown-of-thorns starfish nestled into the reef. While they do feed on coral, as seen here, crown-of-thorns starfish are important members of the reef community and part of the rich biodiversity that makes the Hawaiian Islands such a beautiful place. Of course, when the balance shifts and an outbreak of these animals ensues -- as has recently happened in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa -- their consumption of corals can have negative impacts on reef health, so we closely study the health of reef ecosystems across the sanctuary system. (Photo: Mitchell Tartt/NOAA)

photo of yolk jelly fish

Aug. 21, 2015: This lovely marine creature is known as an egg yolk jelly -- and for good reason! But that yellow yolk-ish mass in the center is actually the jelly's reproductive tissue. From Aug. 31st to September 2nd, you'll have a chance to see one of these beautiful animals on screen in the PBS & BBC Earth show BBC Big Blue Live, which will stream live from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more! (Photo: Josh Pederson/NOAA) #BigBlueLive

photo of coral and mountains in hawaii

Aug. 20, 2015: Can you feel yourself bobbing in the waters of Kaneohe Bay in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary? We're there right now with XL Catlin Seaview Survey, working to survey and photograph the corals in the sanctuary. With the changing climate bringing warmer waters to places like Kaneohe Bay, it's critical that we measure the state of coral reefs so that we can best conserve and protect these precious places. Even in this gorgeous photo, you can see that these reefs are vulnerable to coral bleaching -- under stress, those white corals have evicted the colorful algae they need to survive! (Photo: XL Catlin Seaview Survey)

photo of coral spawning

Aug. 19, 2015: It may look like there's a cloud of smoke or sand around this sponge, but it's actually reproducing! Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Maritime Heritage volunteers Tim Grollimund and Phil Darche were diving in the Molasses Reef Sanctuary Preservation Area when they noticed the sponges in the reef were spawning. (Photo: Tim Grollimund)

photo of uss macon control car

Aug. 18, 2015: The control car of the airship USS Macon was once a magnificent place to see the world below. But in 1935, the Macon and its four onboard Sparrowhawk F9C-2 biplanes crashed into the Pacific Ocean and were lost until the wreck was discovered in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary in 1990. The sanctuary completed the first archeological survey of the site in 2006, and today we're heading back -- this time in collaboration with Nautilus Live! That means that you can tune in LIVE today as we work with the crew of the Nautilus to send an ROV down to the shipwreck to get a better sense of what's there. Learn more at sanctuaries.noaa.gov/shipwrecks/macon and tune in to the livestream! (Photo: Wiley Collection, Museum of Monterey)

photo of a parrot fish

Aug. 17, 2015: These midnight blue parrotfish may be pretty, but they're so much more than that! In Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, they and other types of parrotfish feed on algae, which helps protect corals by keeping algae growth in check on the reef. (Photo: Bill Goodwin/NOAA)

photo of a humpback whale and baby

Aug. 16, 2015: The waters around the main Hawaiian Islands constitute one of the world's most important North Pacific humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) habitats, and the only place in U.S. coastal waters where humpbacks reproduce. Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary works to protect these majestic (and adorable!) animals and the ecosystem they depend upon. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a diver and 360 camera

Aug. 15, 2015: Last year, we partnered with Seaview Survey to bring you amazing 360-degree photos of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. This year, we're joining them in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to study the different coral covers found in the Hawaiian Islands -- and to take some more incredible images with some fancy cameras! (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA)

photo of a seal

Aug. 14, 2015: "Well, now, what should I do this weekend..." Any ideas for this contemplative northern elephant seal, no doubt pondering the meaning of life (or maybe just lunch) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA)

photo of a jelly fish

Aug. 13, 2015: Did you know that the lion's mane jelly, found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is the world's largest jelly? While it is usually just 12 inches across, it can grow up to 8 feet in diameter! (Photo: Kip Evans) #BigBlueLive

photo of a crinoid

Aug. 12, 2015: he NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research is spending two months in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary exploring deep sea habitats. Because the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer is equipped with telepresence, they're sending back never-before-seen images and videos -- like this crinoid -- in real time! Want to know what it's like to be on board the Okeanos? Today from 2pm to 4pm EST, join them for a Reddit AMA! Click here for more information. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a humpback whale breaching

Aug. 11, 2015: Heads up! The whale tagging boat in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary got a treat when this humpback whale breached right by them. Want to see whale tagging in action? Check out our video. (Photo: NOAA/taken under NOAA Fisheries Permit #14245)

photo of red crown of thorns starfish

Aug. 10, 2015: That's a big starfish -- and a big problem! In recent years, the crown-of-thorns starfish, or alamea, population has exploded in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. These starfish eat stony corals that form the essential foundation of coral reefs, and as their population skyrockets, the reef suffers. But the sanctuary, in collaboration with the NOAA Coral Reef Conservation Program, has been working to remove them! Learn more here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of atlantic white sided dolphin leaping

Aug. 9, 2015: Are you enjoying the weekend as much as this Atlantic white-sided dolphin leaping in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? Atlantic white-sided dolphins are extremely social animals, often living in pods of over 50 animals, and sometimes in super-pods numbering up to 1,000! (Photo: Elliott Hazen, NOAA Fisheries permit #14245)

photo of researchers inside monitor's turret

Aug. 8, 2015: For the first time in three years, the 90,000-gallon treatment tank holding the USS Monitor's gun turret has been drained to enable conservators to visually inspect the progress of conservation efforts. Clocking in at 120 tons and pulled from the depths of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, the turret is the largest metal marine artifact ever recovered from the ocean. Here, conservators at The Mariners' Museum & Park install equipment to aid in the conservation of the turret. (Photo: Shannon Ricles/NOAA)

photo of an anemone and kep forest

Aug. 7, 2015: Wish you could get to the kelp forests of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary this summer? Well, soon the sanctuary is coming to you! From Aug. 31st to September 2, PBS and BBC Earth will be bringing a live broadcast of the wildlife of this amazing sanctuary straight to your TV. Will you be tuning in to Big Blue Live? (Photo: Chad King/NOAA)

photo of a diver over a shipwreck

Aug. 6, 2015: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! The New Orleans was a wooden side wheel steamboat that was steaming north on Lake Huron when it ran into a heavy fog on June 13, 1849. Early on the 14th, it strayed from its route and ran onto a reef at Sugar Island. While its passengers were all rescued, strong winds and waves destroyed the vessel a few days later. Now the New Orleans rests 15 feet down in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, where visitors to the sanctuary can dive and see it! (Photo: David Ruck/NOAA)

photo of a buoy being pulled out of water

Aug. 5, 2015: To study the air-sea interactions that relate to climate variability, you need something -- like a buoy -- to hang out in the middle of the ocean to take consistent readings. Just a few weeks ago, staff from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument supported the NOAA Ship Hi’ialakai on a buoy recovery and deployment at a site located some 60 nautical miles north of Oahu, part of a project called the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution Hawaii Ocean Timeseries Site (WHOTS). With data from the project, researchers can help track climate changes, a subject of particular relevance to the health and future of the Monument. Learn more here. (Photo: LTJG Hadley A. Owen/NOAA)

photo of coral shaped like a mushroom

Aug. 4, 2015: Pop quiz: how may types of coral can you spot in this photo of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: G.P. Schmahl)

photo of an otter

Aug. 3, 2015: Did you know that sea otters were once completely eradicated from the Washington coast? A few dozen were reintroduced in 1969 and 1970, and since then that population has grown to more than 1,000 individuals -- like this mama otter and her pup. This week, researchers will be surveying in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to evaluate changes to the ecosystem based on the growth of the sea otter population. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of rov being put into the water

Aug. 2, 2015: What swims in the deep waters of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument? Soon we'll know! Today, the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer begins two months of research in the waters of Hawai'i, marking the first time that we've explored below 2000m in the monument. And what's more, from today until September 30, you can tune in for a live video feed as the Deep Discoverer submersible investigates! Watch here between 8am and 4pm Hawai'i time. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of harbor seal

Aug. 1, 2015: Happy #SealSaturday! Harbor seals, like this one mugging for the camera in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, live throughout our sanctuary system. When not in the water, they can often be spotted sunning themselves on rocks near the water's edge with head and flippers elevated in order to get warm from the sun’s rays! (Photo: NOAA)

photo of marine debris under water

July 31, 2015: Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies Survey, or ACCESS Partnership, was recently in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary surveying marine birds, mammals, and other species. While surveying, researchers collect krill, like these, to see what food sources are available for other animals. By logging the species and quantities found, researchers can keep tabs on what's happening in the California Current. Learn more about the recent expedition from NOAA Teacher at Sea Program teacher Michael Wing! (Photo: Mojoscoast ACCESS/ONMS/Pt Blue)

photo of marine debris under water

July 30, 2015: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument may be remote, but that doesn't mean that it's untouched by humans. Diving here at Pearl & Hermes Atoll, researchers found marine debris piled on the reef. While the debris has been partially colonized by corals, those white corals you see on the right have been bleached: corals stressed by factors like warmer water temperatures will "evict" their symbiotic colorful algae. Corals need these algae to survive and if bleached for too long, will not recover. Learn what you can do about marine debris. Learn more about coral bleaching. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

photo of whale breaching

July 29, 2015: Get out of the way! This humpback whale has places to be. Did you know that its scientific name, Megaptera novaeangliae, means "big-winged New Englander"? True to its name, it "flies" far and wide and migrates thousands of miles every year. You can see humpback whales at many of our national marine sanctuaries, including Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Dr. Brandon Southall, NMFS/OPR)

photo of nudibranch

July 28, 2015: Can you imagine what it would be like to breathe through your back? This Spanish shawl nudibranch (Flabellina iodinea), found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, can! Its bright orange "fringe" is actually a series of structures called cerata that function primarily as gills. What's your favorite kind of nudibranch? (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of a shear water

July 27, 2015: Take flight into the week like this greater shearwater, flying close to the waves in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Did you know that greater shearwaters fly low to the ocean surface to take advantage of scent plumes, which they can detect with their finely tuned sense of smell, and to get a boost from updrafts between the waves? (Photo: Peter Flood)

photo of a manta ray

July 26, 2015: It's a bird! It's a plane! It's...a manta ray! Manta rays (Manta birostris, or hāhālua in Hawaiian) are large fish, weighing up to 3,000 pounds. But don't be fooled by their intimidating size -- these enormous creatures actually eat tiny plankton using their pair of "cephalic flaps" to funnel water into their mouth. This one was spotted at Mokumanamana (Necker Island) in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: James Watt/NOAA)

photo of jelly fish

July 25, 2015: Happy Saturday! Ride into the weekend like this shrimp, hitching a ride on a jelly in NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Will you be enjoying one of our national marine sanctuaries this weekend? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‎EarthIsBlue‬

photo of bleached coral

July 24, 2015: What's wrong with this picture? The blue coral on the right may look pretty, but it's actually an example of coral bleaching in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. When water temperature changes too much, corals expel critical symbiotic algae called zooxanthellae that provide nourishment and protective compounds. Those algae are what give corals their vibrant colors, and without them, the corals turn white (or in this case, blue-ish) and may ultimately die. Although coral bleaching can be caused by a variety of events, the leading cause of coral bleaching is increased ocean temperature caused by climate change. (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of a diver and the monitor wreck

July 23, 2015: This Throwback Thursday, we take you to the wreck of the USS Monitor. This famed Civil War ironclad sank during a storm on December 31, 1862, and wasn't found again until 1973. Its discovery prompted the creation of our first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary! Learn more about the ship's history. (Photo: NOAA Monitor Collection)

photo of a person holding up a bowl of cement

July 22, 2015: When boat groundings occur in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, sanctuary biologists are on the scene! Often, corals that have been overturned can survive if they are righted and reattached to the reef. Biologists mix a special cement while onboard a boat, then carry it to the injury site where they reattach the broken coral to the seafloor. Learn more about reef restoration methods. (Photo: Alicia Farrer/NOAA)

photo of researcher counting limpets

July 21, 2015: One 'opihi, two 'opihi, three 'opihi... that's a lot of limpets! Earlier this month, the Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoe Hikianalia and modern research vessel Searcher embarked on an expedition to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. One of their tasks was a shoreline count of ‘opihi (Hawaiian limpet) on the island of Nihoa, which researchers like Makani Gregg patiently undertook. Among their findings, as Chris Bird, PhD, puts it: "It appears that Nihoa is the ‘Fort Knox’ of ‘opihi in terms of genetic diversity." Learn more. (Photo: Hoku Johnson/NOAA)

photo of anemone in tidepool

July 20, 2015: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary has an enormous diversity of habitats -- and just one of its amazing places is the intertidal zone. Exploring tidepools, you can find creatures like this giant green anemone, which gets its bright hues from microscopic green algae growing in its digestive tract. Going tidepooling soon? Click here to find information about how to help these places and their inhabitants thrive. (Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA)

photo of a wolf eel

July 19, 2015: Help us out! Write a caption for this photo of a wolf eel in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of sea lion on a buoy

July 18, 2015: Welcome to the weekend! This sea lion, basking on a buoy in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, has the right idea. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) 774-1714-00 and 540-1502-00)

photo of noaa ship

July 17, 2015: Have questions for a maritime archeologist or curious about what life on a research vessel is like? Tomorrow, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management will host free, public tours of the NOAA research vessel SRVx Sand Tiger in Ocean City, Maryland. Stop by Governor’s Pier from 10am to 2pm to learn about their recent archaeological surveys in portions of Maryland's Wind Energy Area and what it's like to be a maritime archeologist. Learn more here. (Photo: NOAA) 774-1714-00 and 540-1502-00)

photo of pacific white sided dolphins

July 16, 2015: Wahoo! These Pacific white-sided dolphins are jumping for joy because today is Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary's anniversary. Learn more about this amazing habitat here. (Photo: Michael Richlen; taken under NMSF Scientific Research Permit Nos. 774-1714-00 and 540-1502-00)

photo of researchers on a vessel

July 15, 2015: Earlier this month, the Polynesian double-hulled sailing canoe Hikianalia and the modern research vessel Searcher embarked on an expedition in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument -- the first ever joint expedition expressly combining traditional navigators, cultural practitioners, and government and university researchers! Together, participants conducted navigator training for future legs of the Polynesian Voyaging Society's Mālama Honua Voyage, shoreline 'opihi (Hawaiian limpet) counts, and reef fish surveys, and exchanged ideas about how to better manage Hawaii's marine resources. Here, Hikianalia Captain Kaleo Wong measures the angle of the sun as it sets in front of the canoe. To learn more about the expedition, Click here. (Photo: Kaipo Kī'aha/PVS-'Ōiwi TV)

photo of a birds on stakes

July 14, 2015: How do you restore a damaged seagrass bed? Get birds to come to the party! Biologists in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary place T-shaped PVC stakes in seagrass beds that have been scarred by boat propellers. These stakes serve as perches to attract terns, gulls, and other birds, which produce guano droppings that are rich in nutrients -- which in turn help speed regrowth of seagrass in the barren area! (Photo: Alicia Farrer/NOAA).

photo of a red eye sponge crab

July 13, 2015: Having trouble getting out of bed this Monday morning? Just take a page out of the redeye sponge crab's (Dromia erythropus) book and carry your blanket with you! These crabs, found in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, carry sponges with them for camouflage. They hold the sponge in place with one set of legs! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of a black tip reef shark

July 12, 2015: ‪#‎SharkWeek‬ is coming to a close -- but sharks like this blacktip reef shark, found in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, still swim in our national sanctuaries and need our protection. What's your favorite kind of shark? (Photo: Marc Nadon/NOAA)

photo of a nurse shark

July 11, 2015: Here's another amazing shark for ‪#‎SharkWeek‬! Nurse sharks, like this one, are found in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, where they rest during the day and feed primarily at night. To learn more about sharks in our national marine sanctuary system, click here. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of a pug with a sanctuary behind it

July 10, 2015: Many thanks to everyone who participated in our ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬ photo contest! Our final winning photo is brought to you by Margaret Lindgren (@OurUnbeatenPath on Instagram), who snapped this photo of her pug, Bubble, while they were enjoying Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. To see all of the winning photos (and other amazing sanctuary shots), Click here.

photo of a shark being tagged

July 9, 2015: How do you tag a shark? Very carefully! Here, researchers in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument tag a Galapagos shark at Pearl and Hermes Atoll so that they can track it in the future. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #SharkWeek

photo of a kayaker with a sunset in the background

July 8, 2015: Many thanks to everyone who participated in our #VisitSanctuaries photo contest! One of our winning photos is brought to you by Clare Fieseler (@clarefieseler on Instagram) who snapped this selfie when she was paddling in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

photo of a whale shark

July 7, 2015: That's a big shark! Did you know that whale shark skin is up to 5 inches thick? But while that help protect these gentle giants -- like this one, swimming in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary -- from predation, whale sharks are still subject to threats from fishing and ship strikes. Learn more facts about whale sharks. (And yes, that is a diver looking mighty tiny above the shark!) (Photo: Marissa Nuttall/NOAA) #SharkWeek

photo of a coral and diver

July 6, 2015: Many thanks to everyone who participated in our #VisitSanctuaries photo contest! One of our winning photos is brought to you by Sean Gravem (@decompresean on Instagram), who took this awesome shot while scuba diving in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.

photo of a shark

July 5, 2015: It's #sharkweek! From the white sharks that silently patrol Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary to the graceful hammerheads that congregate at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, sharks are some of the national marine sanctuaries' most beautiful -- and important -- underwater residents. This amazing shark was photographed at Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Wyland)

photo of anemonme up close

July 4, 2015: Happy 4th of July! The ocean has fireworks, too -- check out this closeup shot of sea anemones in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA)

photo of people cleaning up a beach

July 3, 2015: Heading to the beach for the 4th of July? Make sure you don't leave trash behind! From little plastic bags that look like jellyfish snacks to sea turtles, to this giant mass of fishing nets that washed up on Lisianski Island in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, marine debris is a huge problem for wildlife in and beyond our sanctuary system. Do the ocean a favor and pack it out! (Photo: NOAA) #CleanBeachesWeek

photo of moon jellies

July 2, 2015: Did you catch last night's full moon? If you missed it, never fear -- there are always moon jellies to admire in its place. Floating in the open sea in places like Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, moon jellies depend on ocean currents to move them around. They sting their tiny prey using the ring of tentacles that surrounds the mouth. (Photo: Bill Goodwin/NOAA)

photo of orcas hunting seal

July 1, 2015: Did you know that orcas have the most varied diet of all cetaceans? Highly social animals, orcas work together to hunt their prey. Last week, researchers for ACCESS Partnership came across four transient orcas hunting an adult male California sea lion in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Check out more photos from their recent research cruise. (Photo: Mojoscoast Photography)

photo of a lionfish and the ship in the background

June 30, 2015: What's that lurking in the shadow of the R/V Manta? It's the highly invasive lionfish! Since their appearance in this part of the world in the late 1990s, Indo-Pacific red lionfish have invaded Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, and Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, where they pose threats to both people and marine life. Learn more about how we're protecting these special places . (Photo: Michelle Johnston/NOAA)

photo of a monk seal up close

June 29, 2015: Hey! Wake up! It's Monday! Did you know that the Hawaiian monk seal is one of the most endangered animals in the world? An estimated 1,100 seals live in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, but these populations are still at risk due to limited food availability, entanglement in marine debris, habitat disturbance, and other threats. Click here to learn more. (Photo: Ed Lyman/NOAA)

photo of a beach

June 28, 2015: Did you know: there's now even more sanctuary for you to visit! That's because Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary have recently expanded their boundaries. In California today to ‪#‎visitsanctuaries‬? Join us to celebrate the expansion. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of a sea lion

June 27, 2015: Help us out -- caption this photo! And then get into your sanctuary to see some wildlife in person (but be sure to keep your distance!) (Photo: NOAA) #VisitSanctuaries

photo of a woman walking near kelp

June 26, 2015: From tidepooling in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary to snorkeling and diving throughout the sanctuary system, there are tons of ways to get into your sanctuary. But when you #VisitSanctuaries, don't forget that you're visiting a place that many animals and plants call home. Here are seven key ways you can be a good sanctuary steward. (Photo: Andy Collins/NOAA)

photo of a squid

June 25, 2015: Did you know that squid -- like this one, swimming in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary -- can change color? They do that using thousands of special color-changing cells called chromatophores! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #CephalopodWeek

photo of an octopus hiding

June 24, 2015: Uh oh -- you've been spotted! This octopus was curious enough to come out of its hiding place to check out the photographer at Rose Atoll in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. (Photo: Jean Kenyon/NOAA) #CephalopodWeek

photo of whale painting by tom freeman

June 23, 2015: On June 16th, Tom W. Freeman, one of the world's most respected American maritime painters and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation's artist-in-residence, passed away. We at NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries mourn the loss of this marvelous artist and our dear friend, whose considerable skills and expertise brought America's national marine sanctuaries to life on canvas. Click here to learn more about Mr. Freeman and his work. (Image: Tom W. Freeman, c/o National Marine Sanctuary Foundation)

photo of an octopus

June 22, 2015: It's ‪#‎CephalopodWeek‬! The giant Pacific octopus is found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and, when full grown, averages 16 feet from arm tip to arm tip. But did you know that when they first hatch, they're only the size of a grain of rice? (Photo: NOAA)

photo of sea turtle

June 21, 2015: Happy Father's Day! Sanctuaries like Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary are an awesome place to get outside and celebrate your dad. How are you celebrating today? (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬

photo of sea turtle

June 20, 2015: It's the last day of #SeaTurtleWeek! Hawksbill turtles, like this one, are found in the waters of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. They may be relatively small sea turtle, but they're hungry -- an adult hawksbill sea turtle eats an average of 1,200 pounds of sponges a year! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA)

photo of sea turtle

June 19, 2015: It's National Flip Flop Day! What better way to enjoy your sandals than going to the beach at your local sanctuary? (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) #VisitSanctuaries

photo of sea turtle

June 18, 2015: Did you know that loggerhead sea turtles -- found in sanctuaries like Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary -- build 3-5 nests per season, totaling 35 pounds of eggs? That's a lot of eggs! Click here for more amazing sea turtle facts. (Photo: NOAA) #SeaTurtleWeek

photo of photo and ship

June 17, 2015: Whale hello there! It's whale Wednesday. Did you know that you can go whale watching in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary? For tips, click here. (Photo: Jeremy Winn) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬

photo of sea turtle

June 16, 2015: Happy World Sea Turtle Day! Among the largest sea turtles in the world, green sea turtles -- like this one, swimming in the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary -- can weigh up to 450 pounds. What's your favorite type of sea turtle? (Photo: Anita Wintner) #SeaTurtleWeek‬

photo of laysan albatross

June 15, 2015: Happy 9th birthday, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument! A truly amazing habitat, Papahānaumokuākea is home to 14 million seabirds from 22 different species -- including the Laysan albatross. (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎30DaysOfOcean‬

photo of sea lion biting a camera

June 14, 2015: Uh oh! Looks like this California sea lion was feeling a little camera shy. Did you know? California sea lions live along the west coast from British Columbia to all the way to Mexico, including in the kelp forests of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Learn more here. #30DaysOfOcean (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of person swimming underwater

June 13, 2015: It's National Get Outdoors Day! Swimming and snorkeling are just a few of the many ways you can enjoy sanctuaries like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. How will you enjoy the outdoors today? (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬

photo of person kayaking

June 12, 2015: Happy National Fishing and Boating Week! Did you know that many sanctuaries, like Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, allow recreational activities like fishing and boating? Learn more at here. #VisitSanctuaries (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA)

photo of birds on nets

June 11, 2015: Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is more than a thousand miles from any major city, but marine debris still washes up on its shores. Although these Brown Boobies seem pretty comfortable on this pile of nets, debris can be enormously harmful to wildlife across the ocean. Learn more about how you can help. ‪#‎30DaysOfOcean‬ (Photo: NOAA)

photo of whale tail

June 10, 2015: It's #Hump(back)Day! You've made it halfway through. Take a deep breath and dive into the rest of the week like this humpback whale and her calf, swimming in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: HIHWNMS, NOAA Fisheries Permit #782-1438)

photo of sealions

June 9, 2015: These Steller sea lions are as happy as we are to announce the expansion of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary off northern California! The expansion will help protect the region's marine and coastal habitats, as well as many threatened species like these sea lions. Click here for more information on the expansion. (Photo: Robert J. Wilson)

photo of beach scene

June 8, 2015: Happy #WorldOceanDay! With 71% of our planet's surface covered by the ocean, it's undeniable: . How are you celebrating the ocean today? #30DaysofOcean (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA)

photo of coral scene

June 7, 2015: Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest live-bottom ‪#‎reefs‬ of the southeastern United States. Many organisms can be found around the reef, from the very small to the very large. What can you spot? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪#‎30daysofocean‬

photo of whale breaching

June 6, 2015: Who else is jumping for joy that it is the ‪#‎weekend‬? This ‪#‎humpback‬ whale, found in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary sure is. Have a great weekend and celebrate our amazing ocean! (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎30daysofocean‬

photo of shipwreck in shallow water

June 5, 2015: Celebrate our amazing ocean during National Ocean Month! There are many wonders to be seen under the ocean, like the #coralreefs of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. About 500 million people around the world depend on reefs. Click here to learn more about the importance of coral reefs. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #30daysofocean

photo of shipwreck in shallow water

June 4, 2015: It's ‪#‎TBT‬! Today we're taking you to Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument where the Hoei Maru shipwreck lies in the shallow waters of Kure Atoll. The Hoei Maru was a Japanese whaling vessel that ran aground during such a ferocious storm that the ship broke in half. Now it is prime real estate for schooling fish such as yellowfin goatfish and yellowstripe goatfish. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪#‎30daysofocean‬ ‪#‎NationalOceanMonth‬ ‪#‎Shipwrecks‬

scenic shot of beach on olympic coast

June 3, 2015: Today, as we continue to celebrate ‪National Ocean Month‬, we take you to Cape Flattery, located in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Admire the cape's abrupt contours of sea stacks, cliffs and forbidding caves. ‪#‎DidYouKnow‬: Cape Flattery is the oldest permanently named feature in Washington state. (Photo: Mike Lawson) ‪#‎30daysofocean‬

photo of diver and wreck

June 2, 2015: Beneath the waves of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary lie many shipwrecks, like the steamer Albany. Deputy Superintendent Russ Green of the sanctuary snorkels above the wreck, which lies in only about 6' of water in the northern expansion area of the sanctuary. (Photo: David Ruck/NOAA) ‪#‎30daysofOcean‬

photo of gulf of the farallones

June 1, 2015: Let's kick off National Ocean Month with National Go Barefoot Day! What better way to celebrate than by walking barefoot on the beautiful sands of Schooner Gulch, located in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. According to legend, Schooner Gulch got its name from a story where a schooner was sited stranded on the beach in the mouth of the gulch, but in the morning there was no evidence it was ever there. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) #30daysofocean #beach

photo of a rock hind grouper frowning

May 31, 2015: Weekend over too soon? Turn that frown upside down! There's much to look forward to for this rock hind grouper located in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This handsome little grouper is getting ready for a crab feast since 80% of its diet is crab. Not a shabby way to end the weekend! (Photo: John Embesi/NOAA) #Ocean #Fish

photo of a turtle and fish

May 30, 2015: Ever get the feeling that you are being followed? This green sea turtle from Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary actually appreciates its followers! The small cluster of fish are giving this turtle a day at the spa as they peck the turtle's shell not only to clean it but to feed themselves as well. A win-win!! (Photo: Masa Ushioda) #Ocean #Turtles

photo of a hermit crab

May 29, 2015: #TGIF! Are you feeling as good about the upcoming weekend as this happy harbor seal? Found in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, the harbor #seal is the most common seal seen along the U.S. east coast. (Photo: Fabio Gismondi) #Ocean #Marinemammal

photo of a hermit crab

May 28, 2015: Don't be thieving on this Thursday like this hermit crab from Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary who's famous for stealing shells to live in! ‪#‎FunFact‬: The white speckled ‪#‎hermit‬ ‪#‎crab‬ can live in waters as deep as 130 feet! (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of scenic olympic coast

May 27, 2015: "The edge of the sea is a strange and beautiful place" - Rachel Carson

Happy birthday to Rachel Carson, a marine biologist and conservationist! This breathtaking photo, from La Push, WA in Olympic Coast National Park, shows the wonders of the edge of the sea. Carson continues to inspire new generations to protect the natural world around them. (Photo: Anupam_ts) #Beach #Landscape

photo of a frog fish

May 26, 2015: It's a bird! It's a plane! Its a....frogfish? The Commerson's #frogfish, found in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, is the largest species of frogfish. #Funfact: these fish can jet propel themselves up to 20 feet using special gills at the back of their bodies! (Photo: Silke Baron) #Ocean #Fish

photo of monitor sailors burial

May 25, 2015: On this ‪‎Memorial Day‬, we remember the soldiers who have served their country. Here, an unknown sailor from the ‪#‎CivilWar‬ ironclad ‪#‎USSMonitor‬ is laid to rest at Arlington National Cemetery. USS Monitor, a civil war ship, sank in a New Year's Eve storm just over 150 years ago, carrying 16 crew members to their deaths. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪#‎Heroes‬ ‪#‎History‬

photo of channel islands arch

May 24, 2015: Enjoy this beautiful ‪#‎ScenicSunday‬. Sit back and relax as the waves crash upon Arch Point, Santa Cruz Island located in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Santa Cruz is California's largest island, almost three times the size of Manhattan. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Scenic‬

photo of crown of thorns

May 23, 2015: Happy World ‪#‎TurtleDay‬! Many types of ‪#‎seaturtles‬ inhabit the waters of national marine sanctuaries, like this Green Sea Turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. ‪#‎Didyouknow‬: Adult green ‪#‎turtles‬ are the only marine turtle to exclusively eat plants! (Photo: Geir Friestad) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of crown of thorns

May 22, 2015: Today is the International Day for #Biodiversity. Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary supports a rich and diverse marine community, due to extremely productive waters. 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. (Photo: Clinton Bauder) #Reef #Ocean

photo of crown of thorns

May 21, 2015: Can you guess what this is? Hint: It is a "royal" animal that loves to eat live coral. This nocturnal creature has venomous spines and can be found in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Check your guess here. (Photo: Unknown) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of strawberry anemone

May 20, 2015: Happy National #PickStrawberriesDay ! These may not be #strawberries you can eat, but they are strawberry #anemones! These animals, from Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, form clusters of many individuals under rocky ledges. #FunFact: Strawberry anemones are also called Club-Tipped anemones, since their tentacles end in knobs. (Photo: Matt Vieta) #Ocean

photo of guys fishing in a boat

May 19, 2015: It is National Safe Boating Week! Enjoy fishing and sailing in sanctuaries, like these men in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, but it's important to follow safe boating techniques. Learn more about safe boating practices. (Photo: John Cast) #Ocean #SafeBoatingWeek

photo of an eel

May 18, 2015: Not just another ‪manic Monday‬ with the dragon moray eel! From Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, this eel lives in caves and coral reefs, where it hides while hunting. ‪#‎FunFact‬: The dragon moray has slime all over its skin to protect it against infections! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Animals‬

photo of an ROV

May 17, 2015: Happy Saturday! It's National ‪#‎SubmarineDay‬! This Mohawk may not be a submarine, but it is a ‪#submersible‬. Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary uses this ‪#‎ROV‬ to take HD pictures of the reefs in the sanctuary! (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Technology‬

photo of healthy coral

May 16, 2015: Happy Saturday! National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is home to the only true tropical reef in the sanctuary system. ‪#‎Didyouknow‬: About a quarter of all ocean animals depend on ‪#‎coralreefs‬ for food and shelter! (Photo: Greg McFall) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of a monk seal

May 15, 2015: Shhh...don’t wake him up! This is the unique ilio-holo-i-ka-uaua, Hawaiian for #MonkSeal! It's Endangered Species Day! The endangered species of the day is the Hawaiian monk seal, one of the rarest marine mammals in the world. Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument provides one of the last remaining refuges for this unique seal. Find out what eight species NOAA considers most at risk of extinction in the near future. (Photo: NOAA) #ESDay #EndangeredSpecies #NOAAspotlightspecies

photo of coho salmon

May 14, 2015: Endangered Species of the Day: Coho Salmon! The Coho salmon, found in Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, are anadramous, meaning they spend their adult lives in the ocean and migrate to freshwater streams to spawn! One of the major threats to these #salmon is degradation of rivers. To learn how sanctuaries provide safe haven for endangered species, visit http: //go.usa.gov/3kFBT. (Photo: NOAA) #EndangeredSpecies #ESDay

photo of a leatherback turtle

May 13, 2015: Endangered Species of the Day: Leatherback Sea Turtle! #Leatherback #turtles, found in a few national marine sanctuaries, are the largest turtles in the world! #FunFact: Leatherbacks have hundreds of jagged spines lining their mouths and throats in order to eat their favorite food, the jelly fish! The major threats to leatherbacks are harvesting of eggs and being caught in fishing nets. (Photo: Quinten Questel) #EndangeredSpecies #ESDay

photo of white abalone

May 12, 2015: Endangered Species of the Day: White Abalone! White #abalone, found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, was the first invertebrate (animal without a backbone) to be listed as endangered. Closely related to snails, this species is most threatened by overfishing. Learn more about how sanctuaries provide safe haven for endangered species. (Photo: NOAA) #EndangeredSpecies #ESDay‬‬

photo of orca

May 11, 2015: Endangered Species of the Day: Southern Resident Orca Whale! Did you know: Orcas are the largest members of the dolphin family! The Southern Resident population of orcas, found in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, face many threats in their environment, including noise and overcrowding from boats, contaminated waters, and scarce food supplies. To learn more about orcas, visit http: //go.usa.gov/3kBY4 (Photo: Miles Ritter) ‪#‎EndangeredSpecies‬ ‪#‎ESDay‬

photo of otter and cub

May 10, 2015: Happy ‪‎Mother's Day‬!‎Seaotter‬ moms, like this one from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, carry pups on their chests for the first two months of life. When the mother needs to dive for food, she wraps her pup in kelp to keep it from floating away! (Photo: John C. Bruckman) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of feather duster worm

May 9, 2015: Spending your day spring cleaning ? This feather duster may not be much help. The feather duster worm, found in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, gets its name from the fine hairs on the tentacles. The hairs are used to trap floating particles for food! (Photo: Greg McFall/ NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of an octopus

May 8, 2015: It’s a He’e! Happy #OctopusFriday! He’e is the Hawaiian name for the Day Octopus, from Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. This species of #octopus typically feeds during the day, and thus has an amazing ability to #camouflage to hide from predators! (Photo: Unknown) #Ocean

photo of wind surfers

May 7, 2015: What do you get when you combine national marine sanctuaries and wind? ADVENTURE! Wind surfers enjoy the sea breeze as they skillfully navigate the waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬ ‪#‎ComeVisitNOS‬

photo of kayakers

May 6, 2015: Calling all nature photography enthusiasts! The coastlines running along national marine sanctuaries provide an idyllic frame for some great ocean shots, like these stunning views of Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬ ‪#‎ComeVisitNOS‬

photo of kayakers

May 5, 2015: Kayakers enjoy a tranquil sunset in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary(Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) ‪#‎VisitSanctuaries‬ ‪#‎ComeVisitNOS‬

photo of starfish

May 4, 2015: Happy ‪#‎Maythe4th‬! In a galaxy far away, under the ocean of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, comes the knobby sea star for Star Wars Day! The knobs on this ‪#‎seastar‬ are actually jaw-like structures that crunch on small organisms that land on them! (Photo: NPS) ‪#‎StarWarsDay‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of a nurse shark

May 3, 2015: Hanging out on the couch today? Would you want this guy sitting next to you? Nurse sharks, like this one found in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, are considered the "couch potatoes" of the sharks! Did you know: The nurse shark’s name comes from the nursing sound they make as they feed! (Photo: NOAA) #Ocean

photo of a scenic view of big sur

May 2, 2015:Happy Saturday! Many seabirds visit Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, like the common tern. Fun fact: Common terns feed by plunge-diving from the air into the water to catch small fish! (Photo: Jacques Boujot) ‪#‎Ocean‬

photo of a scenic view of big sur

May 1, 2015: Happy first day of May! Hopefully the April showers bring some May flowers. However, native plants are better for the ecosystem, unlike these Pride of Madeira, in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. The Monterey Bay area is home to a large number of native plants. It is important to conserve and preserve so the next springs to come are even more beautiful. (Photo: Albert de Bruijn) #Landscape #Ocean

photo of a propeller of a shipwreck

Apr. 30, 2015: It’s Thunder Bay Thursday! This iconic propeller is part of the wreck of freighter Monohansett, located in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It’s 35 year career ended in 1907 when a fire on board led to a dramatic sinking. To learn more about this shipwreck and others, click here. (Photo: NOAA) #Shipwreck #Ocean

photo of wrasse

Apr. 29, 2015: Are you looking at my big head? Happy hump day! The humphead wrasse, found in the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, is one of the largest coral reef fish in the world and can live to at least 30 years old! (Photo: Eric Burgers) #Ocean #Fish

photo of jelly fish

Apr. 28, 2015: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has many interesting animals lurking around, like this East Coast sea nettle jelly! Fun Fact: Jellyfish can’t swim! They are considered plankton, and just drift along with the currents! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean

photo of manta ray

Apr. 27, 2015: Happy Monitor Monday! This manta ray certainly enjoys its time in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Atlantic manta rays are the largest species of ray in the world. They can have "wingspans" up to 29 feet and can weigh up to 3000 pounds! (Photo: NOAA) #MarinelifeMonday #Ocean

photo of hermit crab

Apr. 26, 2015: Say hello to the Red Grouper, from GraysReef National Marine Sanctuary. #Didyouknow: Red groupers are considered “marine engineers” because they excavate flat bottom areas to create homes for themselves! (Photo: NOAA) #Ocean #Fish

photo of hermit crab

Apr. 25, 2015: Anyone hanging around the house today? This #hermitcrab, from the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, sure is. Hermit crabs carry their “homes” with them wherever they go. They find empty #shells from other animals to live in, and move out when they get too big! (Photo: NOAA) #Ocean

photo ofkelp forest

Apr. 24, 2015: Happy Arbor Day! Our underwater marine sanctuaries may not have trees, but they do have forests. Kelp forests, like the ones found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, are tiered like terrestrial rainforests and create crucial habitats for many marine animals. (Photo: NOAA)

photo of fish over the reef that looks like earth

Apr. 23, 2015: Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary - one of North America's most productive #marine #ecosystems. The rocky headlands, beaches and tide pools of the sanctuary are not only stunning but essential in keeping a diverse gathering of life that keeps a fragile ecosystem in place. (Photo: Adam Barhan) #Landscape #Ocean

photo of fish over the reef that looks like earth

Apr. 22, 2015: Happy Earth Day! When astronauts first launched toward the moon and looked back at our planet for the first time, they made an unexpected discovery: Earth is Blue. Today marks the 45th anniversary of Earth Day. It's our turn to lead, help keep our Earth blue. (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #Ocean #EarthDay2015

photo of a loggerhead turtle

Apr. 21, 2015:Feeling particularly slow on this Tuesday? Well, perk up! Even though this loggerhead sea turtle is slow on land, it is increasingly swift and graceful in the water, like this one from Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Did you know: Female loggerhead turtles swim hundreds of miles to nest! (Photo: Brian Gratwicke) ‪#‎TurtleTuesday‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‬‬

photo of uss monitor

Apr. 20, 2015: Happy Monitor Monday! Look closely, what do you see? After sinking in 1862, the USS Monitor wreck now teams with marine life, from the permanent encrusting algae to great whales just passing through. (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Shipwreck‬ ‬‬

photo of a sea lion

Apr. 19, 2015: Say cheeeeese!!!! It's ‪#‎SelfieSunday‬ and this elephant seal wants to show off its pearly whites!! Elephant seals, like the ones found in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, are the largest seals in the world! Now that's a a BIG selfie! (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/ NOAA) ‪#‎Marinemammal‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‬‬

photo of a fish up close

Apr. 18, 2015: Get ready for your #fishpicgram close up!! This Cabezon sculpin isn't shy when it comes to posing for the camera. Some of the sculpins found in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary are so curious about divers, they are often seen seeking them out for a closer look! (Photo: NOAA) #Fish #Ocean #Marinelife‬‬

photo of a monk seal and turtle cuddling

Apr. 17, 2015: TGIF! Exhale and relax as you think of the start of your weekend! These two are definitely thankful it's Friday! Hawaiian monk seals and green sea turtles spend lots of leisurely time together on the beautiful beaches of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. (Photo: Mark Sullivan) #Ocean #Marinelife‬‬

photo of an otter

Apr. 16, 2015: It's fur-licking Thursday! Sea otters, like this one from Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, have the densest fur in the animal kingdom! It helps them keep warm in the chilly waters. (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Marinemammal‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎ThursdayFunDay‬‬

photo of volunteers counting birds

Apr. 15, 2015: Can you say this 5 times fast? Spot splashing seabirds with Stellwagen Sanctuary Seabird Stewards! At Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, volunteers study and count seabirds, while helping raise awareness and increase understanding of local birds. (Photo: Evelyn Ganson/NOAA) #VolunteerWeek #GetInvolved‬

photo of a dolphin

Apr. 14, 2015: It's National dolphin day! Do you know what type of dolphin this is? It's a bottlenose dolphin, found in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. #Didyouknow: Bottlenose dolphins can reach speeds up to 18 miles per hour! (Photo: NOAA) #Ocean #Marinemammal‬

photo of a diver with a starfish on her face

Apr. 13, 2015: Happy National Volunteer Week! At national marine sanctuaries, volunteers perform a variety of critical functions, like this starstruck Team OCEAN diver from Grays Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Team Ocean divers track marine debris, identify fish species, and assess the sanctuary habitat. (Photo: Alison Scott/NOAA) #VolunteerWeek #GetInvolved‬

photo of a crab

Apr. 12, 2015: Don't get too close! Even if this kelp crab eats only seaweed, it can still pinch you! This colorful crab can be found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, often called the “Serengeti of the Sea."(Photo: Chad King/NOAA) #Ocean #Marinelife‬

photo of a submersible

Apr. 11, 2015: Happy "National Submarine Day!" Today we introduce you to Delta, the submersible that has been called "the Jeep of the Seas", and has performed more than 7,000 deep-water dives, mostly off Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) ‪#‎Research‬

photo of a sunset

Apr. 10, 2015: It's #FarallonesFriday: Unwind from your week by taking a walk outdoors today. Visit a beach, like Manchester Beach, the northernmost boundary of the expanded Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Kate Thompson/NOAA) #Ocean #Landscape

photo of a clownfish

Apr. 9, 2015: Pucker up those lips! The #clowntriggerfish gets its name from the fact that its bright orange lips look like those of a #clown. This #triggerfish, along with many other colorful #animals, live in the tropical coral reefs of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. (Photo: Julie Bedford/NOAA) #Ocean #Marinelife #Fish

photo of a banded sea urchin

Apr. 8, 2015: It's Hump(back) Day! Did you know you can identify a humpback whale by its tail? Each whale tail has different color variations and markings. What would you name this humpback from the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary? (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Humpday‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎marinelife‬‬‬‬

photo of a banded sea urchin

Apr. 7, 2015: Look closely. What do you see? Think you're looking at the outer edges of our galaxy? Think again! You're actually looking at an up close photo of a banded sea urchin in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Sea urchins move about using their long, slender spines and tube feet. (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎ocean‬ ‪#‎marinelife‬ ‪#‎sea

photo of a nudibranch

Apr. 6, 2015: Happy Marine Life Monday! Enjoy some beautiful marine life today, like this nudibranch or anemone, found in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Can you spot the 4 different kinds of algae in this picture? (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪#‎ocean‬ ‪#‎animals

photo of lobster eggs

Apr. 5, 2015: On an egg hunt this morning? Well, you found your first eggs...lobster eggs! When lobster eggs hatch, the babies float near the waters surface for 4-6 weeks. After that, they settle to the ocean floor and develop into baby lobsters, like the ones found in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary! Happy hunting! (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎marinelife‬

photo of a diver in florida keys

Apr. 4, 2015: Ever seen a 360 degree picture? These scientists created some, with the help of Catlin Seaview Survey and their unique tripod camera system. The camera captured images of the coralreefs in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and a panoramic, 360 degree was made. For more information and to view these amazing photos, visit http: //go.usa.gov/3j6Ck (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) ‪#‎ocean‬ ‪#‎Saturdayscience‬

photo of an octopus

Apr. 3, 2015: Happy Octopus Friday! Did you know: An octopus has three hearts, nine brains, and blue blood? Giant Pacific Octopus, like this one found in NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary, is the largest type of octopus with an average arm span of 15 feet! (Photo: TETHYS) #Ocean #marinelife #animal‬

photo of a diver and shipwreck

Apr. 2, 2015: It's Thunder Bay Thursday! TBT to when this over 100 foot, two-masted schooner was sailing the waters of the Great Lakes. En route from Cleveland to Milwaukee, F.T. Barney was run into by the schooner T.J. Bronson. The ship sank in less than two minutes in very deep water with a cargo of coal, and no lives lost. The shipwreck, among many others, can be found in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: Tane Casserly/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎diving‬ ‪#‎shipwrecks‬

photo of a venus fly trap anemonne

Apr. 1, 2015: Pretty isn't it? It is called the Venus Fly-Trap Anemone, found in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. By its name, do you think it would eat animals or plants? April fools! These anemones eat particles floating by in the water! When matter lands on the tentacles, the anemone closes to digest the food! (Photo: NOAA) #ocean #marinelife #AprilFoolsDay

photo of a brain coral

Mar. 31, 2015: I spy with my little eyes...a brain coral! What can you see in this photo? From March 28-April 7, 2015, NOAA scientists are on a research expedition in the U.S. Virgin Islands aboard the NOAA Ship Nancy Foster. This image, shot by a camera mounted on a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) off the southern coast of St. Croix, shows a variety of coral structures, including grooved brain coral. The ROV provides scientists with "eyeballs" beneath the water to see the health of the ecosystem and to better understand what the ship sonar is capturing with multibeam data. (Photo: NOAA) #Ocean #Marinelife

photo of a lighthouse in channel islands

Mar. 30, 2015: It's National Take a Walk in the Park Day! Visit a local park, like Channel Islands Anacapa Island, located near Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, where you can observe many kinds of marine life. Have a picnic, play a game, see how many dolphins you can spot! Whatever your choice, enjoy the spring day! (Photo: NPS) #Landscape #Ocean #Lighthouse #Parks

photo of a beach at gulf of the farallones

Mar. 29, 2015: Take a Sunday stroll down this beautiful beach. Feel the sand between your toes as you head south to Galloway Creek, now part of the expanded Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. This sanctuary protects open ocean, nearshore tidal flats, rocky intertidal areas, estuarine wetlands, subtidal reefs, and coastal beaches within its boundaries. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪#‎Landscape‬‬‬

photo of emma hickerson

Mar. 28, 2015: Meet Emma Hickerson, an inductee into the 2014 Women Divers Hall of Fame and the research and permits coordinator for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Hickerson has coordinated or participated in more than 150 research missions, using scuba, remotely operated vehicles (ROVs), and submersibles. As Women's History Month comes to an end, learn more about Emma by visiting here. (Photo: Frank and Joyce Burek) ‪#‎diving‬ ‪#‎ocean‬‬

photo of an orca jumping out of the water

Mar. 27, 2015: TGIF! Anyone else joining this orca in jumping for joy? Orca whales are the largest members of the oceanic dolphin family, reaching lengths up to 32 feet. Fun fact: the diet of an orca whale changes based on where they live! They can be found in all oceans around the world, including Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA) ‪#‎Animal‬ ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎marinemammal

photo of an angelfish

Mar. 26, 2015: Did you know salt water fish, like this Townsend Angelfish from the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, have to drink seawater constantly? It is because they are always losing water from inside their bodies through their skin and gills. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA) #thirstythursday #animal #ocean #marinelife

photo of a brown pelican

Mar. 25, 2015: Fun fact: Brown pelicans can hold almost 3 gallons of water in their throat pouch! These pelicans plunge dive to stun fish and scoop them up in their beaks. Our newly expanded Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary is home to some of these beautiful seabirds. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎blueplanet‬ ‪#‎sea‬ ‪#‎birds‬ ‪#‎animal‬

photo of scenery at american samoa

Mar. 24, 2015: Talofa on this beautiful Tuesday! Talofa means hello in Samoan. The National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is thought to support the greatest diversity of marine life in the National Marine Sanctuary System. It also has the only true tropical reef among the sanctuaries! (Photo: NPS) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Landscape‬ ‪#‎coral‬

photo of a sleeping seal

Mar. 23, 2015: Still a little sleepy this Monday morning? This seal is too, taking a nice rest on the banks of Oahu, Hawai'i. The seal was spotted during the annual Sanctuary Ocean Count, where volunteers observe humpback whales and help record whale behaviors in the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The next Sanctuary Ocean Count is March 28. For more information or to sign up to volunteer, Click here. (Photo: Barbara Billand) #EathisBlue #animal #ocean #landscape #marinemammal

photo of a flapjack devilfish

Mar. 22, 2015: Are you enjoying some pancakes this Sunday morning? Say hello to the Flapjack, or Pancake, Devilfish, from Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary! This is a type of deep sea octopus, that was previously thought to be the dumbo octupus. These flapjack devilfish have small fins that flap as they swim. To see a video of this cephalopod, visit YouTube. (Photo: OCNMS/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎Marinelife‬ ‪#‎invertebrate‬ ‪#‎animal

photo of a right whale and calf

Mar. 21, 2015:Join #Gray'sReef National Marine Sanctuary in saying #FareWhale to the North #Atlantic #RightWhales as they begin to migrate north for feeding and nursing in #NewEngland waters, near #StellwagenBank National Marine Sanctuary. Gray's Reef is having their FareWhale Festival today from 12-4pm to celebrate these large, baleen whales. To learn more about the festival, visit Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: NOAA ) #Marinemammal #ocean #marinelife #farewhalefest #whale

photo of an albatross feeding a chick

Mar. 20, 2015: Happy first day of spring! It's time for flowers and new baby chicks! This Lysan Albatross is feeding its chick in the Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. The parents regurgitate squid and fish eggs to feed their young. Albatrosses are rarely seen on land, preferring to stay out on the ocean except to mate and raise their babies. (Photo: Claire Fackler) ‪#‎beach‬ ‪#‎ocean‬ ‪#‎Hawaii‬ ‪#‎islands‬ ‪#‎birds‬‬

photo of a scientist and an rov

Mar. 19, 2015: Steady! Steadyyyy... Researchers aboard the @NOAA ship Bell M. Shimada carefully retrieve a remotely operated vehicle, or #ROV, from the waters of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Nicknamed the #Beagle, this high-tech #underwater #robot provided by Marine Applied Research & Exploration (#MARE) has been helping NOAA scientists explore deep-sea #corals within the sanctuary during their multi-day expedition off #SouthernCalifornia! (Photo: Sarah Raskin/Teacher at Sea) #exploration #science #technology #STEM #STEAM #TeacherAtSea‬

photo of a sea star up close

Mar. 18, 2015: Can you guess what this is? It's the top of a sea star, from Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Georgia! Sea stars are echinoderms, Ancient Greek for “spiny skin.” Sea stars on the west coast have been dying in great numbers from a mysterious illness known as sea star wasting syndrome, but sea star populations at Gray's Reef appear to be in good health! Listen to our podcast episode about sanctuary scientists studying the sea star wasting outbreak in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary: http: //go.usa.gov/3cyp4 (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎marinelife‬ ‪#‎animal‬ ‪#‎invertebrate‬ ‬

photo of a green morray eel

Mar. 17, 2015: Happy St. Patrick's Day! Did you remember to wear green? This green moray eel always remembers. Their greenish color is due to a mucus covering their skin to protect themselves from diseases. Green morays hide in holes and crevices in coral reefs like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and emerge at night to feed! (Photo: G.P. Schmahl) #Sea #ocean #marinelife

photo of birds on 2 turtles on the beach

Mar. 16, 2015: Feel like you have the weight of the world on your shoulders? Well these green sea turtles certainly do with the masked boobies from Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument standing on their backs. Green sea turtles are the second largest sea turtle species, while masked boobies are the largest species of boobies. The wingspan of an adult masked booby is equal to the length of an adult green sea turtle. (Photo: Mark Sully) ‪#‎beach‬ ‪#‎ocean‬ ‪#‎Hawaii‬ ‪#‎islands‬ ‪#‎turtles‬ ‪#‎birds

photo of crinoids

Mar. 15, 2015: Welcome to Bodega Canyon, CA, a submarine canyon now part of the expanded Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary! These feathery structures are called crinoids, or sealilies. They are animals related to sea stars and sea urchins, and are thought of as living fossils! (Photo: Jennifer Stock/NOAA) ‪#‎Ocean‬ ‪#‎sea‬ ‪#‎CordellBank‬ ‪#‎sealife‬

photo of white sided dolphin

Mar. 14, 2015: Happy Saturday! Going out bowling tonight? Check out this Bowling Ball Beach which is part of Schoone rGulch State Beach in California. Now part of the newly expanded Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary, this #beach is named for the bowling ball sized #rock formations found here. The round rocks are compacted minerals and sandstone, and are about 2-3 feet wide! (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) #Beach #Ocean #Landscape #coast

photo of white sided dolphin

Mar. 13, 2015: NOAA made a splash yesterday with the announcement of the expansion of Cordell Bank and Gulf of the Farallones national marine #sanctuaries, and it has us jumping for joy! The expanded #sanctuary area is home to an incredible array of #marinelife like this Pacific white-sided #dolphin, which is just one of the 36 different #marinemammal species found in this part of #California's #coastal and #ocean waters! Read our story here. (Photo: Jamie Hall/NOAA) #CA #visitsanctuaries #travel #conservation #MPAs

point arena lighthouse

Mar. 12, 2015: Exciting news! NOAA just announced that Gulf of the Farallones National Marine Sanctuary and CordellBank National Marine Sanctuary off Northern California are expanding to more than double their original size! These two neighboring #marinesanctuaries are home to some of the most diverse and vibrant #marine #ecosystems in North America, and this expansion will extend their protection to even more of California's beautiful and productive #coastal and #ocean waters. Pictured here is the historic #lighthouse at #PointArena, which lies just inside the new northern boundary of the Farallones sanctuary. Learn more about the expansion. (Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA) #conservation #wildlife #wilderness #stewardship #marineprotectedareas #MPAs #blueplanet

diver releasing a rehabilitated juvenile hawksbill turtle

Mar. 11, 2015: Want to meet people who rescue #seaturtles for a living? Head to #Galveston #Texas this weekend for Ocean Discovery Day 2015! The @NOAA Galveston Facility will be open to the public from 9am to 3pm this Saturday, March 14, for a day of free festivities and #familyfun hosted by #FlowerGardenBanks National Marine Sanctuary and @NOAAFisheries. Learn about the #underwater world of the #sanctuary, help paint an #ocean mural, and talk to #scientists in the #SeaTurtle Lab — like Michelle Johnston (left) and Marissa Nuttall (right), pictured here releasing a rehabilitated juvenile hawksbill into the wild. (Photo: NOAA) #ODD #turtle #turtles #turtlerescue #animalrescue #ocean #blueplanet #science #research #STEM #SXSW

photo of coral

Mar. 10, 2015: #Talofa from #AmericanSamoa! Nestled in an eroded volcanic crater on the island of Tutuila, #FagateleBay was once our smallest national marine sanctuary, protecting .25 square miles of diverse #tropical #coralreefs like the #Acropora species pictured here. Today, it is part of the 13,581-square-mile National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, which covers six distinct protected areas across the #Samoan Archipelago! Discover the sanctuary for yourself at http: //americansamoa.noaa.gov/ (Photo: Michelle Johnston/NOAA) #ocean #coral #underwater #reef #dive #scuba #conservation #marine

picture of the uss monitor

Mar. 9, 2015: It's #MonitorMonday: Day 2 of the #BattleofHamptonRoads! On March 9, 1862, the sun rising over #HamptonRoads #VA revealed the devastation of the previous day. Two #Union ships had been utterly destroyed on March 8 by the Confederate #ironclad CSS Virginia, which returned to the battlefield shortly after dawn seeking to finish off the USS Minnesota, still aground and hopelessly stranded. But as the seemingly unstoppable “rebel monster” advanced, its captain spotted something else: a peculiar little vessel, shaped like a “cheesebox on a raft,” blocked its path to the defenseless Minnesota. The USS Monitor, “Abraham Lincoln's Secret Weapon,” the Union's own revolutionary ironclad, had arrived the night before, and it immediately steamed out to test its Southern counterpart head-on in the first-ever clash of #IronVsIron. The two armored #ships circled for hours, firing volley after volley from nearly point-blank range in one of the most famous stalemates in #naval #history. With neither able to penetrate the other's iron hide, both vessels eventually withdrew. Both sides declared victory — but the real triumph was that of iron over wood, and naval warfare would never be the same. (Image courtesy of Library of Congress) #CivilWar #OnThisDay #OTD #militaryhistory #maritimehistory

map of battle of hampton roads

Mar. 8, 2015: 153 years ago today, one of the most important #naval battles of the #CivilWar began in disaster for the Union #navy. On March 8, 1862, the Confederacy's new #ironclad #CSSVirginia (a.k.a. Merrimack) steamed into battle at #HamptonRoads #VA and attacked the Union's wooden fleet there. The iron-plated behemoth first rammed and sank the #USSCumberland, then turned her guns on the #USSCongress, leaving the #USSMinnesota aground and helpless as night fell. That evening, the Union's own ironclad, the strange-looking #USSMonitor, arrived on the scene—too late to save the Cumberland or the Congress, but determined to protect the Minnesota from further carnage. Sailors on both sides spent a sleepless night anticipating what the following day would bring: the first-ever clash of #IronvsIron! To be continued… (Map courtesy of Library of Congress) #history #maritimehistory #OTD #OnThisDay

photo of cliffs at monterey bay

Mar. 7, 2015: It's Saturday — time to go on an #adventure! Who can name this breathtaking stretch of #California #coastline that winds along the shores of #MontereyBay #NationalMarineSanctuary? (Photo: Carolyn Skinder/NOAA) #ocean #landscape #seascape #scenic #rainbow #visitCA #travel #coast

photo of colorful fish

Mar. 6, 2015: Happy #FishFriday! Who's getting ready for a night out on the town? Take a cue from this painted wrasse at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary and you'll be sure to stand out from the crowd! #fashion (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #ocean #underwater #oneocean #blueplanet #reef #colorful #photography

photo of rov under water

Mar. 5, 2015: Student teams from around the globe gathered at the headquarters of #ThunderBay National Marine Sanctuary in #Alpena #Michigan last spring to put their #engineering skills to the test at the 2014 MATE International #ROV Competition! Here's a shot from inside the 600,000-gallon pool where contestants from 18 states and 13 countries piloted their robotic creations through a series of underwater challenges simulating real #shipwreck exploration and #science! (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA) #ThunderBayThursday #ThrowbackThursday #STEM #robotics #robots @puremichigan

photo of sea lions

Mar. 4, 2015: #WildWednesday Quiz Time: What do you call a group of sea lions? It depends on where they are! When sea lions gather on land (like these #Steller sea lions in #OlympicCoast National Marine Sanctuary) they're called a colony, a group of them in the water is a raft, during breeding seasons they're known as a rookery, and when several females assemble in a male's territory it's called a harem. Who knew the social lives of sea lions could be so complex? (Photo: Heidi Pedersen/NOAA) #sealion #ocean #blueplanet #PacificNorthwest #marinemammals

photo of a tounge snail

Mar. 3, 2015: Happy #WorldWildlifeDay! Our national marine #sanctuaries are full of #creatures big and small, from massive blue #whales to the delicate little #flamingo tongue #snail. Did you know that this flamboyantly colored #gastropod's shell is actually colorless? It's true — the vivid #leopardprint decoration is produced by the snail's mantle, a retractable layer of tissue that covering its plain white shell. That hasn't stopped shell collectors from scooping them up in hopes of taking a home an eye-catching souvenir in places like #FloridaKeys National Marine Sanctuary, only to wind up disappointed. (Photo: Paige Gill/NOAA) #wildlife #blueplanet #oneocean #coralreef #seasnail

photo of a monkfish

Mar. 2, 2015: #MonkfishMonday: Good things come to those who wait! Monkfish may not be known for their beauty, but their #camouflage skills are top-notch. This well-disguised predator lurks on the sandy seafloor of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary in #NewEngland, waiting to ambush anything edible with a single gulp of its massive mouth. (Photo: Matthew Lawrence/NOAA) #ocean #underwater #fish #marinelife #monkfish

photo of a seal on the beach

Mar. 1, 2015: #‎LazySunday‬: Can you tell we're ready for ‪#‎winter‬ to end? While snow and sleet continue to blanket much of the country, we're daydreaming about the white sand ‪#‎beaches‬ of Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument. Here, an endangered ‪#‎Hawaiian‬ monk seal soaks up the sun on the protected shores of the remote Kure Atoll. (Photo: Paulo Maurin/NOAA) ‪#‎sunshine‬ ‪#‎beach‬ ‪#‎seal‬ ‪#‎hawaii‬ ‪#‎ocean

photo of orange coral

Feb. 28, 2015: Whale hello there! Today is the second #SanctuaryOceanCount of 2015, and our #volunteers are out in force to count #whales in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! At the first #OceanCount of the year in January, these intrepid #citizenscientists averaged 76 #humpbacks spotted per hour across three islands. Learn how you can get involved in the final count of the year on March 28 at www.sanctuaryoceancount.org (Photo: HIHWNMS NMFS permit #782-1438) #whale #ocean #citizenscience

photo of orange coral

Feb. 27, 2015: For our final photo of #InvasiveSpeciesWeek, we take you to the #ChannelIslands off #California's central coast, where @ucsantabarbara Ph.D. candidate Lindsay Marks is trying to find out how invasive seaweeds change the makeup of local ecosystems! Lindsay's research focuses on #Sargassum horneri, a large seaweed from Japan that recently spread to Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Just this week, she and other @NOAA researchers removed over four tons of S. horneri from Catalina Island using a type of underwater vacuum cleaner! Lindsay is a recipient of NOAA's Dr. Nancy Foster Scholarship, which provides financial support for students pursuing advanced studies in #marinescience to undertake research projects in our national #marinesanctuaries. (Photo © Tom Boyd) #ocean #marinebiology #ecology #invasivespecies #underwater #STEM #science #scienceinaction

photo of orange coral

Feb. 26, 2015: Orange cup #coral (Tubastrea coccinea) may look pretty, but it can spell bad news for a #reef. This #invasivespecies spreads rapidly and competes for space with native corals in places like #FlowerGardenBanks National Marine Sanctuary in the #GulfofMexico. Sanctuary staff carefully monitor the spread of this fiery-colored invader and remove it before it becomes a serious problem. (Photo: Emma Hickerson/NOAA) #InvasiveSpeciesWeek

photo of orange coral

Feb. 25, 2015: What happens when a keystone predator disappears?? After a mysterious illness wiped out thousands of sea stars along the California coast, our researchers wanted to know how the loss of these important creatures would affect the spread of invasive species like the red, lettuce-like bryozoan Watersipora (pictured here with an opalescent nudibranch). Listen to the latest episode of our “Sanctuary Shorts” podcast for a tale of scientific sleuths hunting for clues in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! http: //go.usa.gov/3cyp4 (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA)

photo of before and after of shipwreck with invasive mussels on them

Feb. 24, 2015: #InvasiveSpecies Awareness Week continues! You may have heard about the #lionfish invasion happening now, but did you know just how far these venomous #fish have spread? Since the first lionfish sighting off #Florida in 1985, the invaders have spread throughout the #Carribean, #GulfofMexico and along the Atlantic Seaboard as far north as Rhode Island! Here, a #science #diver at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary captures a lionfish specimen for research that will help us better understand and combat this threat to our marine #ecosystems. (Photo: Ryan Eckert/NOAA) #invasivesweek #research #conservation

photo of before and after of shipwreck with invasive mussels on them

Feb. 23, 2015: It's National #InvasiveSpecies Awareness Week! You're looking at the #wreck of the #schooner Kyle Spangler, which sank in 1860 in what is now #ThunderBay National Marine Sanctuary. The bottom image, taken in 2003, shows this wooden #shipwreck in relatively pristine condition, while the top one, shot in 2008, shows it as it looks today — almost completely encrusted with invasive #quagga #mussels! #Zebramussels may be the more famous #GreatLakes invader, but quaggas present an equally serious threat to the sanctuary's shipwrecks and other submerged pieces of our nation's maritime history. (Photo: @NOAA (top); Stan Stock (bottom)) #invasives #LakeHuron #shipwrecks #maritimeheritage #history

photo of whale disentanglement

Feb. 22, 2015: HUMPBACK HEROES: Earlier this weekend, a team of specially trained @NOAA rescuers successfully freed a #humpback #whale from a life-threatening tangle of fishing gear off the #Kona Coast of #Hawaii! Led by staff from #HawaiianIslands HumpbackWhale National Marine Sanctuary and @NOAAFisheries, the responders tracked the whale for more than a week before getting close enough to cut it free from at least five wraps of heavy gauge line around its tail fluke Friday afternoon. #Marinedebris is a major threat to the health of the world's whales, and NOAA works around the clock to protect the health of these majestic animals. (Photo: R. Finn/NOAA MMHSRP permit #932-1905) #marinelife #whales #humpbackheroes #animalrescue #noaa

photo of 2 whales in the ocean

Feb. 21, 2015: Happy Saturday, everyone! We hope you’ve been enjoying our campaign exploring the very best photos from our national marine #sanctuaries. Do you have a favorite sanctuary #snapshot of your own? Tag it with @noaasanctuaries or , and we’ll share our favorites! (Photo: Northern right whale #dolphins in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, by Jan Roletto/NOAA)

photo of coral

Feb. 20, 2015:FRAGILE BEAUTY: Bleached #coral at Airport Reef in #AmericanSamoa, near Fagatele Bay (part of the National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa). Linked to warming ocean temperatures, coral #bleaching is a phenomenon that causes corals to lose the symbiotic algae that live within their tissues, making them appear brilliant white. It can be reversible if water temperatures return to normal, but prolonged bleaching can kill corals altogether. NOAA keeps close watch over our coral reef ecosystems to track bleaching events around the globe, to better understand and protect these natural treasures. Learn more at http: //coralreefwatch.noaa.gov/ (Photo: Wendy Cover/NOAA)

photo of kid and a kayak

Feb. 19, 2015: We are proud to support President Barack Obama's challenge to get #EveryKidInAPark! Our public lands and waters are treasures for all to enjoy, and it is critical that our youth stay connected to the natural world. National marine sanctuaries are always free to explore and enjoy. Find your nearest sanctuary and plan your visit today! (Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA) #recreation #GetOutdoors #FindYourPark #nature #environment #education

photo of kids drawing of a crab

Feb. 18, 2015: DEBRIS MAKES ME CRABBY: Congratulations to the winners of the 2015 "Keep the Sea Free of Debris" #art contest! @NOAA's #MarineDebris Program received more than 600 entries for this year's contest, which encourages K-8 #students to create their own visual take on the impact of floating trash on our #ocean. Catch all the winning entries, including this one by 6th-grader Halie C. from #SouthCarolina, at http: //marinedebris.noaa.gov (Courtesy of NOAA Marine Debris Program) #illustration #sea #oceans #artcontest #artists #SC #conservation #oneocean #blueplanet

photo of 2 turtles on the beach

Feb. 17, 2015: For all our snowbound followers in the Northeast and Midwest, here's a #TurtleTuesday shot from Papahanaumokuakea Marine National Monument to brighten your day! For those of you currently residing in warmer climates, enjoy feeling like these two #Hawaiian green #seaturtles and try not to rub it in. (Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA) #beach #ocean #escape #sunshine #Hawaii #islands #turtles

photo of uss monitor crew

Feb. 16, 2015: Happy #PresidentsDay! In honor of President #AbrahamLincoln's birthday last week, we'd like to share one of the few photographs taken on the deck of the ironclad #USSMonitor, which has been called "#Lincoln's secret weapon" in the #CivilWar. Lincoln himself actually visited the Monitor on the day this photo was taken (July 9, 1862), but departed just a few hours before the photographer arrived! In the foreground on the right is Siah Carter, a 22-year-old former slave who escaped from a Virginia plantation and joined the Monitor's integrated crew, serving as a cook's assistant and coal heaver until the ironclad's sinking later that year. (Photo: Library of Congress) #BlackHistoryMonth #history #freedom #navy #AfricanAmericanHistory

photo of channel islands

Feb. 15, 2015: "Just living is not enough," said the butterfly, "one must have sunshine, freedom, and a little flower." —Hans Christian Andersen, "The Butterfly" It's vistas like this one at Inspiration Point on Anacapa Island that remind us just how beautiful the world can be, and how lucky we are to be alive in it. Come visit California's #ChannelIslands national park and national marine sanctuary for #sunshine and freedom — and a little flower — to brighten up your life! http: //channelislands.noaa.gov/ (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) #InspirationSunday #oceanscape #islands #vista #nature #beauty #ocean #visitCA

photo of a whale

Feb. 14, 2015: #50ShadesOfGrayWhale's migration is... unconventional. Every year, gray #whales travel as far as 11,000 miles from #BajaCalifornia to #Alaska and back, passing through several national marine #sanctuaries along the #California coast. It's one of the longest annual migrations of any mammal on the planet -- now that's commitment! Happy #ValentinesDay, everyone! (Photo: Merrill Gosho/NOAA) #50ShadesofGray #VDay #HappyValentinesDay #whale #marinemammals

photo of a jellyfish

Feb. 13, 2015: It's #FridayThe13th, so we thought we'd share this #FreakyFriday photo of a fried egg jelly, which can grow up to two feet in diameter! This one was photographed in the chilly depths of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary off northwest Washington state. (Photo: NOAA) #deepsea #underwater #jellyfish #jellies #marinelife

photo of the uss macon

Feb. 12, 2015: THE LAST GREAT AIRSHIP: 80 years ago today, one of the largest flying machines in history took to the skies for the final time. The #USSMacon was a rigid #airship measuring more than two football fields in length, filled with helium and braced by a cavernous metal superstructure. One of the @usnavy's revolutionary (but short-lived) "flying #aircraft carriers," she could launch and retrieve small planes in midair from a hook lowered through her belly! On February 12, 1935, the Macon was damaged in a storm off #PointSur, CA, and crashed tail-first into the Pacific Ocean, sinking to a depth of nearly 1,500 feet below the surface of what is today #Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo courtesy of Naval Historical Society) #ThrowbackThursday #history #dirigible #navalhistory #militaryhistory

photo of a golf course

Feb. 11, 2015: BLUE MEETS GREEN: The 2015 AT&T #PebbleBeach Pro-Am is underway! #DidYouKnow that this legendary #golf tournament in #Monterey #CA happens right along the shores of one of our nation's largest marine #sanctuaries? That's right — all that blue beyond the green (like famous 7th hole, pictured here) is protected by the 6,094-square-mile #MontereyBay National Marine Sanctuary, which stretches along the #California coast from #SanFrancisco to #Cambria. Learn more at http: //montereybay.noaa.gov #GreenMeetsBlue (Photo: Chad King/NOAA) #attproam #golfing #golfers #PGATour #PebbleBeachProAm #ocean #oceanscape #seascape

photo of a lionfish

Feb. 10, 2015: MALICIOUS, BUT DELICIOUS: #Lionfish are voracious, invasive predators that have been gobbling up fish on reefs throughout the #GulfOfMexico and along the U.S. East Coast since their introduction more than a decade ago. The tables will turn on these hungry invaders tonight as top chefs showcase their favorite lionfish dishes at the #CelebrityChef Lionfish Challenge in #NewOrleans, hosted by the National Marine #SanctuaryFoundation as part of the #SeaWeb #Seafood Summit 2015! Check out our Facebook page for recipes and photos after the event. (Photo: Lionfish in #FlowerGardenBanksNMS, by Travis Sterne/TAMUG) #invasivespecies #fishing #conservation #marinelife #underwater #tropicalfish #aquariums

photo of a scallop

Feb. 9, 2015: Hey there, Ol' #BlueEyes... Even #Sinatra himself couldn't have competed with the lion's paw #scallop, which has two rows of brilliant sapphire eyes along the edge of its mantle. You can find this species somewhere beyond the #sea — at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the #Georgia coast! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #MacroMonday #macro #underwater #diving #scuba #photography #invertebrate #marinelife #color #madeofocean

diver above a shipwreck

Feb. 8, 2015: #StellwagenBank National Marine Sanctuary is best-known as a world-class #whalewatching destination, but its natural #beauty was in full display when our photographer snapped this gorgeous #SundaySunset! Located north of #CapeCod just 25 miles from #Boston #MA, the sanctuary is also home to high concentrations of economically important #fish species. The #NewEngland Fishery Management Council is currently reviewing public comments on a proposed Dedicated Habitat Research Area overlapping the sanctuary's boundaries, which could provide #scientists and resource managers with a place to better understand fish populations and #fishing impacts throughout the region. (Photo: Anne Smrcina/NOAA) #sunset #ocean #sea #photography #nature

diver above a shipwreck

Feb. 7, 2015: It's #ShipwreckSaturday! Here's a neat perspective of the Portland, a wooden schooner that wrecked in #ThunderBay in 1877 and has gradually been torn apart by waves and storms over the years. Just one of the many amazing #shipwrecks you'll encounter in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary! (Photo: Tane Casserley/NOAA)

diver above a shipwreck

Feb. 6, 2015: Happy #FishFriday from #FloridaKeys National Marine Sanctuary! This year marks the 25th anniversary of the sanctuary's designation in 1990, when Congress combined and expanded Looe Key and #KeyLargo national #marinesanctuaries to give comprehensive protection to #FLKeys marine #ecosystems. Learn more about the sanctuary's spectacular marine life, like this red #grouper and boulder star #coral photographed in the #UpperKeys, at http: //floridakeys.noaa.gov (Photo: Bill Goodwin/NOAA) #fish #conservation #biodiversity #Florida #underwater #sea #ocean #travel #adventure #marinebiology #fishing

bird on the water

Feb. 5, 2015: MIRROR IMAGE: The glassy, rolling surface of #CordellBank National Marine Sanctuary reflects a common #murre, one of the more than 50 #seabird species that flock to this patch of #PacificOcean 20 miles off #PointReyes #CA. What makes Cordell Bank such a hotspot for #marinelife? It's all about the #upwelling! Cold, nutrient-rich water gets drawn up from the deep #ocean here in late spring, creating perfect conditions for a rich soup of plankton and krill that feeds countless creatures large and small. (Photo: Sophie Webb/ONMS/PRBO) #blueplanet #sea #birds #birding #tourism

diver observing coral reef

Feb. 4, 2015: Ah, Wednesday… Another day at the office, meetings with coworkers, same old thing, right? That is, unless your office happens to be a #coralreef, and your #coworkers are #sea #creatures! Here, #Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument Deputy Superintendent Randy Kosaki stops by the water cooler (cooler water?) to check in on a spotted #moray at Maro Reef in the Northwestern #HawaiianIslands! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #ocean #sea #underwater #marinelife #science #diving #divers #scuba #scubadiving #HumpDay

shark swimming

Feb. 3, 2015: #Leftshark, is that you?! This #halftimeshow #hero seems to have made the journey down to #FlowerGardenBanks National Marine Sanctuary in the #GulfofMexico, which @NOAA today announced will begin accepting public comments on a potential boundary expansion! (Photo: GP Schmahl/NOAA) #shark #sharks #sandbarshark #noaa #sanctuaries #underwater #MPAs #marinelife #ocean #blueplanet #conservation

photo an elephant seal on the beach

Feb. 2, 2015: If you visit #California's beaches during #elephantseal breeding season, remember — harassment of #marinemammals is illegal, not to mention dangerous. Don't be #thatguy! This poster was created by students in #CalPoly San Luis Obispo's Art and Design Department as part of a #communityservice project to help protect the #wildlife of #MontereyBay National Marine Sanctuary. Thanks to Professors Mary LaPorte and Sky Bergman for organizing the project, and students Reid Vizcarra, James Butler, Felix Ng, Emma Lacey, Alice Terz and Hannah Jacobson for their fantastic work! (Image courtesy of #CalPolySLO) #seals #marinelife #travel #beach #beaches #adventure #ocean

photo ofdiver and monitor

Feb. 1, 2015: It's a clash of #blueandgreen versus #white in today's #SuperBowlXLIX! The #Seahawks will be representing the #PacificNorthwest, home of NOAA Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary (surfer photo, top), while the #Patriots try to bring the championship back to #NewEngland and NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary (northern gannet, bottom). Who's your pick? (Photo: Arnold Schouten, top; Peter Flood, bottom) #SuperBowl #nfl #football #teamcolors #SuperBowlSunday

photo ofdiver and monitor

Jan. 31, 2015: Hooray! The #SanctuaryOceanCount is back! Today, hundreds of volunteers are gathering along the shores of #HawaiianIslands #HumpbackWhale National Marine Sanctuary to help #sanctuary staff count these acrobatic animals and record behaviors like spyhopping, tail slapping, and — of course — breaching! There are two more #OceanCount 2015 dates coming up in February and March, so visit www.sanctuaryoceancount.org and find out how you can get involved. (Photo: HIHWNMS, NOAA Fisheries Permit #782-1438) #whales #humpbacks #whalewatching #vacation #volunteer

photo ofdiver and monitor

Jan. 30, 2015: Happy 40th Birthday to America's First National Marine Sanctuary! On January 30, 1975, the wreck of the Civil War ironclad USS Monitor was given federal protection off CapeHatteras, NC, as Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, making it the very first site in our National Marine Sanctuary System. How did a shipwreck (pictured here with a diver, 230 feet below the surface) become our first sanctuary, you ask? Find out here #Monitor40 (Photo: NOAA Monitor Collection) #sanctuaries #conservation #history

photo of monitors turret

Jan. 29, 2015: Engineer and inventor Harold "Doc" Edgerton of MIT studies a sonar printout on the 1973 expedition that discovered the #wreck of the #CivilWar ironclad #USSMonitor, lost for more than a century off #CapeHatteras #NC! Two years after its discovery, this historical #shipwreck was designated our nation's first-ever national marine sanctuary on January 30, 1975 - join us in celebrating Monitor National Marine Sanctuary's 40th birthday tomorrow! Learn more at monitor.noaa.gov #Monitor40 (Photo: NOAA Monitor Collection) #nofilter #ThrowbackThursday #sanctuaries #conservation #archaeology #history #exploration #science #STEM

photo of monitors turret

Jan. 28, 2015: VOLUNTEERS COUNT: For #WhaleWednesday, we're celebrating the kickoff of the 2015 #SanctuaryOceanCount in #Hawaii! Starting this Saturday, #volunteers armed with binoculars and clipboards will help #HawaiianIslands #HumpbackWhale National Marine Sanctuary staff count and record #whale behaviors from the shores of #Oahu, #Kauai and the #BigIsland. Join us at www.sanctuaryoceancount.org! (Photo: Bruce Parsil) #Ocean #whales #whalewatching #conservation #voluntourism #volunteer #travel #vacationideas #HumpDay #HumpbackDay

photo of monitors turret

Jan. 27, 2015: #Ocean #films are everywhere this month! The #documentary "SWAINS ISLAND: One of the Last Jewels of the Planet" will bring spectacular footage from the National Marine Sanctuary of #AmericanSamoa to the Santa Barbara International Film Festival TOMORROW, Wednesday, January 28! Created by Jean-Michel Cousteau and Jim Knowlton of the Ocean Futures Society, this powerful film dives into the vibrant #coral #reef #ecosystems and rich history of this tiny, remote #island within America's largest national #marinesanctuary. (Photo: Jim Knowlton) #blueplanet #PacificOcean #conservation #filmmaking #exploration

photo of monitors turret

Jan. 26, 2015: #Boom! It's #MonitorMonday, and we're just a few days away from the 40th anniversary of Monitor National Marine Sanctuary's designation on January 30, 1975! You may recall the famous #CivilWar ironclad #USSMonitor from high school #history class, but did you know that its wreck site later became America's very first national marine sanctuary? Stay tuned for more on the Monitor's journey from secret weapon to #conservation icon this week, starting with a photo of conservators at The Mariners' Museum in #NewportNews #VA restoring one of its two Dahlgren guns, recovered from the ship's turret in August 2002. (Photo courtesy of The Mariners' Museum) #historycomesalive #militaryhistory #museums

photo of bull kelp

Jan. 25, 2015: ‪#‎Art‬ is everywhere under the sea! Giant ‪#‎kelp‬ fronds curl into a delicate spiral in the waters of ‪#‎MontereyBay‬ National Marine Sanctuary, where these fast-growing plants form dense forests that support a diverse and thriving array of ‪#‎ocean‬ life. (Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA) ‪#‎underwater‬ ‪#‎sea‬ ‪#‎marinelife‬ ‪#‎color‬ ‪#‎beauty‬ ‪#‎photography‬

photo of chumash tribe

Jan. 24, 2015: Preserving and celebrating indigenous cultures is a critical part of the mission of NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries. Here, members of the #Chumash community paddle a traditional redwood plank canoe (#tomol) at sunrise, crossing from the mainland of California to the #ChannelIslands, a sacred place in Chumash culture. This tomol, called ‘Elye'wun (Swordfish), was built and launched in 1997 under the leadership of the Chumash Maritime Association and funded by a grant from @NOAA. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary maintains close ties to the Chumash community through its support for events like tomol crossings and a Chumash seat on its sanctuary advisory council. (Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) #culture #history #NativeAmerican #heritage #ocean

photo of a diver underwater

Jan. 23, 2015: Here's a colorful #FishFriday shot to brighten up your day! This Hawaiian longfin anthias (Pseudanthias hawaiiensis) was photographed at Pearl and Hermes Atoll in the Northwestern #Hawaiian Islands. Protected by the 140,000-square-mile #Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument, the vibrant #coral #reefs of this remote part of the Hawaiian Archipelago are home to more than 7,000 #marine species, one-quarter of which are #endemic — that is, found nowhere else on Earth! (Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA) #reef #fish #Hawaii #blueplanet #oneocean #conservation #biodiversity #tropicalfish #underwater #photography #marinelife #sea #ocean #nature #beauty

photo of a diver underwater

Jan. 22, 2015: Last summer, the restored former #whaling #ship #CharlesWMorgan set sail for the first time in nearly a century, embarking on a mission of #hope and #inspiration rather than destruction. The Morgan's historic #38thVoyage, hosted by #MysticSeaport with support from NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, took the magnificent ship on a tour of #NewEngland to educate communities about whale conservation. Here, a #humpbackwhale greets one of the Morgan's replica whaleboats (sans harpoons!) in the waters of #Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary off #Boston #MA, where these endangered animals were once hunted but today receive the highest federal protection. (Photo courtesy of Mystic Seaport) #ThrowbackThursday #whales #humpbacks #whalewatching #history #AmericanHistory #maritimehistory #ocean #conservation #blueplanet #oneocean

photo of a diver underwater

Jan. 21, 2015: Calling all #Michiganders and #ocean #film lovers: The Thunder Bay International #FilmFestival kicks off TONIGHT! Don't miss out on this jam-packed 5-day (Jan 21-25) celebration of cinema highlighting our #ocean and #GreatLakes, hosted by NOAA's #ThunderBay National Marine Sanctuary. Starting in #RogersCity tonight and continuing in #Alpena over the weekend, the festival will feature nearly 50 films from around the world, including selections from the acclaimed #SanFrancisco International Ocean Film Festival, educational events, and #filmmaker Q&As. Tickets are still available — call (989)356-8805x38 to get yours today! (Image: Mackinac Bridge, from festival selection "Project Ice") #movies #water #blueplanet #oneocean #weekendplans #Michigan #puremichigan

photo of a diver underwater

Jan. 20, 2015: Having a rough day? Don't look so deflated! We're sure you'll skate through the rest of the week. Speaking of #skates, here's a long-nosed skate photographed by #CordellBank National Marine Sanctuary staff using a remotely operated vehicle nearly 1,000 feet beneath the #ocean's surface! This and many more #deepsea images were captured on a September 2014 #research expedition to Bodega Canyon off #NorthernCalifornia, which lies within the area currently being considered as part of the proposed expansion of the sanctuary. (Photo: Cordell Bank NMS)

photo of a diver underwater

Jan. 19, 2015: Happy #MLKDay! In honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., we would like to express our appreciation for the NABS - The National Association of Black Scuba Divers for volunteering their time in several of our national marine sanctuaries. Here, NABS diver Jay Haigler conducts field work at the site of a mystery shipwreck in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, which he and other NABS volunteers helped identify as the #HannahMBell in 2012! Learn more about NABS. (Photo: Matthew Lawrence/NOAA) #dayofservice

photo of a colorful anemone

Jan. 18, 2015: We hope you've been enjoying our campaign, featuring the very best images from our national marine sanctuaries! We want to hear about your sanctuary experiences -- share your images and videos with the hashtag for a chance to be featured on our Instagram and Facebook! Photo: Anemone in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, by Claire Fackler/NOAA

photo of a boat in the waters of flower garden banks

Jan. 17, 2015: Today marks the 23rd anniversary of the designation of #FlowerGardenBanks National Marine Sanctuary! Renowned as a #scuba #diving destination for their terrific visibility, the Flower Garden Banks got their name from #GulfOfMexico snapper fishermen in the late 1800s, who reported seeing brightly colored sponges and other #marinelife on the vibrant #coral #reefs below their boats. Here's a spectacular gull's-eye-view of the R/V MANTA silhouetted against the sanctuary's reefs, visible more than 60 feet below the surface! (Photo: NOAA) #quadcopter #aerial #ocean #sea #blueplanet #sanctuaries

photo of a diver and photo of hawaii

Jan. 16, 2015: #HappyBirthday to two spectacular national marine #sanctuaries on opposite sides of the country! On this day in 1981, President Jimmy Carter approved the designation of Gray's Reef off the #Georgia coast and Gulf of the Farallones off #SanFrancisco #CA as our nation's fourth and fifth marine sanctuaries. Today also marks the start of the Gray's Reef #Ocean #FilmFestival in #Savannah -- check it out if you're in the area! (Top: Gulf of the Farallones NMS, by Matt McIntosh/NOAA; Bottom: Gray's Reef NMS, by Greg McFall/NOAA) #conservation #sea #reef #islands #oneocean #blueplanet

photo of the raised uss monitor's iron gun turret

Jan. 15, 2015: In August 2002, a joint NOAA and U.S. Navy recovery effort raised the USS Monitor’s iron gun turret from the seafloor off Cape Hatteras NC! This massive 41-day undertaking used a claw-like apparatus to lift the Civil War ironclad’s revolutionary turret, which contained two 11-inch Dahlgren guns and the remains of t