2020 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest results

Below are the winners and entries for the Sanctuary Life category. Thank you to all those who participated! Click each photograph to see the full version.

Sanctuary Life

From tiny krill to enormous gray whales, thousands of species call the National Marine Sanctuary System home! This category depicts the amazing marine life that you can find in your national marine sanctuaries. All photographers followed marine life viewing guidelines while taking photos.

fish popping out of bryozoan
1st Place: Jon Anderson. A yellowfin fringehead (Neoclinus stephensae) peeks out from behind a red-rust bryozoan (Watersipora subtorquata) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Rissos dolphins swimming out of the water.
2nd Place: Douglas Croft. Risso’s dolphins (Grampus griseus) in a hurry in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This photo was taken 100 yards away from wildlife in compliance with all responsible wildlife viewing guidelines.
French Angelfish
3rd Place: Stan Schone. French Angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) snacking on a sponge in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

All submitted photos

Sea Nettles
Pacific sea nettles (Chrysaora fuscescens) drift above frilled anemones (Metridium senile) just off Cannery Row in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jon Anderson
market squid
Market squid (Doryteuthis opalescens) aggregate to mate in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jon Anderson
Snowy Plover in the sand
Western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), Marina State Beach, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Photo: Steve Zmak
Snowy plover in the sand
Western snowy plover (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus), Marina State Beach, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Photo: Steve Zmak
Chicks squabbling
Black-crowned night heron chicks (Nycticorax nycticorax). Photo: Jerry Loomis
Bird in the water
Green heron (Butorides virescens), Carmel Valley, California in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jerry Loomis
Humpback tail
A playful humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) splashes at the surface as a flock of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) fly by in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
Whale tail with birds
A playful humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) splashes at the surface as a flock of brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) fly by in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
dolphins leaping out of the water
Two common dolphins ( Delphinus delphis) leap out of the water in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
whale tail
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) fluking in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tara Brown-Petrich
whale tail
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) fluking in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tara Brown-Petrich
whale tail
Blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) fluking in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tara Brown-Petrich
whale tail
I took this series of photos of a blue whale (Balaenoptera musculus) fluking in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tara Brown-Petric
Herring Gull
American herring gull (Larus smithsonianus) with reflection, Santa Cruz, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Moray Eel
California moray eel (Gymnothorax mordax) in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
Nudibranch swirl
Nudibranch (Felimare californiensis) swirl (photo taken through reflective plumbing pipe) in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
Dolphin leaping out of the water
An offshore common bottlenose dolphin (Tursiops truncatus) goes for big air. Just off Santa Cruz Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft
Bermuda Chubs
Bermuda chubs (Kyphosus sectatrix) at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Cocoa damsel fish
Cocoa damselfish (Stegastes variabilis) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
long spined sea urchin
A long-spined sea urchin (Diadema antillarum) at night in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stan Schone
French angelfish up close
French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Juvenile blue angelfish
Juvenile blue angelfish (Holacanthus bermudensis) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Loggerhead turtle
Loggerhead sea turtle (Caretta caretta) at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Marbled Grouper
Marbled grouper (Dermatolepis inermis) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Neon Goby
Neon goby (Elacatinus oceanops) at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Painted elysia
Painted elysia (Thuridilla picta) at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
red night shrimp
Red night shrimp (Cinetorhynehus manningi) at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
ridged slipper lobster
Ridged slipper lobster (Scyllarides nodifer) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Rock hind
Rock hind (Epinephelus adscensionis) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Seaweed blenny
Seaweed blenny (Parablennius marmoreus) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
spotted moray Eel
Spotted Moray Eel (Gymnothorax moringa) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
spotted scorpionfish
Spotted Scorpionfish (Scorpaena plumieri) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
squirrelfish
Squirrelfish (Holocentrus sp.) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
rigid slipper lobster
A Ridged Slipper Lobster (also called a Knobby Slipper Lobster) on a nighttime hunt for dinner in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stan Schone
Spotted moray eel
Two spotted morays (Gymnothorax moringa) hanging out in a crevice on the Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stan Schone
Yellowmouth grouper
Yellowmouth grouper (Mycteroperca interstitialis) at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
atlantic spade fish
Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber) at the Benwood wreck in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Daryl Duda
bristleworm
Bristle worms in shallows around Fort Jefferson near Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Brown noddy
Brown noddy (Anous stolidus) on rusted base around Fort Jefferson near Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Gray Angelfish
Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) at Molasses Reef off Key Largo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Daryl Duda
Green sea turtle and nurse shark
A green sea turtle(Chelonia mydas) and nurse shark(Ginglymostoma cirratum) at Snapper Ledge off Key Largo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Daryl Duda
green sea turtle on a wreck
The King of the Benwood Wreck, Green Sea Turtle holding Court. The Benwood Wreck is off Key Largo in the Florida Keys in the National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Daryl Duda
Angelfish
Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jill Brown
christmas worms
Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jill Brown
Turtle
“A juvenile sea turtle on Molasses reef off Key Largo. Such a beautiful shell, and the calmest little friend – it's easy to appreciate the value of marine protected areas in places like Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Liah McPherson
Nurse shark
Eye contact with a nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) at Pickles Reef off Key Largo in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Daryl Duda
spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) flying through Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo, Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray (Aetobatus narinari) flying through Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo, Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
Elkhorn coral
Elkhorn coral (Acropora palmata) on Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo, Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
queen angelfish
Queen angel (Holacanthus ciliaris) among Schoolmaster snappers in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: William Brown
snook
Common snook (Centropomus undecimalis) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: William Brown
nudibranch
A sea slug (Ercolania) sp.) near Anini Beach, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
breaching humpback
Breaching humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
breaching whale
Breaching humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
breaching whale
Breaching humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae), Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
sea turtle
Honu, or green sea turtle, (Chelonia mydas) wrapped, cut free by Doug and Ed Lyman in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Doug Boyd
nudibranch
Decorated Nudibranch, (Goniobranchus decorus ) Goniobranchus decorus in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Nudibranch (Caloria sp.) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Painted nudibranch (Hypselodoris infucata) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Painted nudibranch (Hypselodoris infucata) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
fish on a reef
“I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a blackside hawkfish (Paracirrhites forsteri) resting on coral with a fourspot butterflyfish (Chaetodon quadrimaculatus) and arc-eye hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) in the background.” Photo: Bill Pigott
moray eel and fish
“I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a bluefin trevally (Caranx melampygus) and an eel (Gymnothorax sp.) during mutualistic hunting.” Photo: Bill Pigott
green sea turtle
“I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This photo shows a SCUBA diver observing a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) from a distance.” Photo: Bill Pigott
green sea turtle
“I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. I was SCUBA diving and happened to look upward and saw this turtle above me. I rolled over, snapped the photo and continued on my way. The photo shows a green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) heading toward the surface.” Photo: Bill Pigott
goatfish and octopus
“I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a face to face meetup between a Hawaiian day octopus (Octopus cyanea) and orange goatfish (Mulloidichthys pfluegeri).” Photo: Bill Pigott
nudibranch
Endemic gold lace nudibranch (Halgerda terramtuentis) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Pease’s nudibranch, aka locust nudibranch (Hypselodoris peasei) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Yellow margin nudibranch, also known as the orange creamsicle sea goddess (Ardeadoris angustolutea) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Yellow margin nudibranch, also known as the orange creamsicle sea goddess (Ardeadoris angustolutea) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
dried up puffer on beach
“These were taken during an early morning walk along the shoreline of the Waihee Dunes and Wetlands Refuge on Maui's northeast shoreline in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary during the first week of July. That day, amongst the ever present rock and driftwood, was this unfortunate fish, who must have really blown it somehow.” Photo: Michael Stettner
dried up puffer on beach
“These were taken during an early morning walk along the shoreline of the Waihee Dunes and Wetlands Refuge on Maui's northeast shoreline Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary during the first week of July. That day, amongst the ever present rock and driftwood, was this unfortunate fish who must have really blown it somehow.” Photo: Michael Stettner
whale tail
Whale tail in Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
greenwing teal
Greenwing teal (Anas carolinensis) from Laguna Grande Seaside, California in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jerry Loomis
vultures
“Beach clean up crew, naturally. These turkey vultures (Cathartes aura) were feasting on a marine mammal carcass on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, which they clean up regularly and naturally.” Photo: Christina Parsons
california sea lions
“Far from their clumsy appearance on land, California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) are agile and athletic once they hit the water! So fun to watch these two playing in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Douglas Croft
pelicans
Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) circling at the bird sanctuary at Carmel River State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
common dolphins
“Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) playing alongside our boat in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Douglas Croft
seal scratching head
Contemplation: Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dennis Segers
cormorants
Courting Brandt’s cormorant (Phalacrocorax penicillatus), Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dennis Segers
curlew taking off
A curlew (Numenius sp.) takes off out of an incoming wave at Marina State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
great blue heron
Great blue heron (Ardea herodias) in China Cove at Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jerry Loomis
whale with open mouth out of the water and birds flying around
Feeding frenzy in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunge through a school of anchovies at the surface while gulls circle, waiting to feast on the leftovers. Photo: Douglas Croft
godwits
Two godwits (Limosa sp.) at Marina State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
gull over kelp
A gull flies over kelp beds in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
“Heermann’s gull (Larus heermanni) overlooking artificial nesting site. This gull was landward of an artificial nesting site built for Herrmann’s gulls in Roberts Lake, near where the lagoon flows into Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Christina Parsons
humpback breaching
“We have overcast skies much of the time in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This flattens out the light and allows our cameras to get fantastic detail. It also makes everything appear in shades of gray. I really liked how stripping out the little bit of color that was there enhanced the detail even more on this humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breach.” Photo: Douglas Croft
humpback feeding above water
“Anchovies fly as a humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunges from beneath them. Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a feeding zone for humpbacks and eating is pretty much all that is on their minds when they are here. Anchovies, krill and even some sardines are on the menu. Photo: Douglas Croft
pelican in flight
Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) in flight, Point Lobos near Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dennis Segers
nudibranch
Nudibranch Explosion in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
jellyfish
Jellyfish Eclipse (Chrysaora fuscescens) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
sealions
Sea lion ballet (Zalophus californianus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
nudibranch
Lion’s mane nudibranch (Melibe leonina) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
blue crab
eeny blue porcelain crab (Petrolisthes galathinus) at Mavericks Beach tide pools in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Audrey West
sea star
Ochre sea star (Pisaster ochraceus) making a comeback at Mavericks Beach tide pools in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Audrey West
osprey
Osprey (Pandion haliaetus) hunting in Harkin Slough in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jerry Loomis
otter
Southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) at Elkhorn Slough in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dennis Segers
pigeon guillemot
Pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba) under Cannery Row in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This photo was taken where a group of pigeon guillemots had been nesting and this one was resting on the rocks just below the Chart House on Cannery Row.” Photo: Christina Parsons
seals in kelp
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) swim in kelp beds in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
seals in kelp
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) look up curiously at the camera in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
sea otter
A southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) with a double crab feast in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft
godwits
Early morning picture of godwits (Limosa sp.) on Marina State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
woodduck
Wood duck (Aix sponsa) from Neary Lagoon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Santa Cruz, California. Photo: Jerry Loomis
fish on a reef
Blue striped grunt (Haemulon sciurus) huddle close to a spur reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tiffany Duong
nurse shark
Getting a nurse shark’s (Ginglymostoma cirratum) view of Spanky’s Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tiffany Duong
nurse shark
A school of nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) swim up in the water column with divers at Spanky’s Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tiffany Duong
bat sea stars
“Point Lobos Weston Beach tide pools during the King Tide’s lowest tidal point. The pastel colors of the bat sea stars (Patiria miniata) are relatively easy to spot against the black rocks and bright green sea grass of their native habitat in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Meg McWhinney
harbor seal and pup
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) mother and pup rest after a swimming lesson on the Pacific Grove 5th St Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Meg McWhinney
brants cormorant
“Absolutely my favorite birds to watch during the breeding season, this pair of Brandt’s cormorants (Phalacrocorax penicillatus) begin to build a nest on the edge of the Monterey Jetty Pier in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.” Photo: Meg McWhinney
leatherback
“A huge draw for whale watching boats right now, this mature female leatherback sea turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) floats just above the submarine Monterey Canon Rim in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary looking for jellyfish.” Photo: Meg McWhinney
sea lion pups
Two California sea lion pups (Zalophus californianus) comfort each other after their arrival at Monterey Jetty Pier in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Meg McWhinney
snowy egret
A snowy egret (Egretta thula) searches the Point Lobos Weston Beach tide pools in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary for food during the King Tide’s lowest tidal point. Photo: Meg McWhinney
harborseal pup
A lone harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) pup in evening light waits for its mother to return to the Pacific Grove 5th St. Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Meg McWhinney

Please note that we may use any of the photos we received for this contest on our website, on social media, and in other NOAA and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation publications. We will provide credit to photographers whenever we use any of the photos. Organizations other than NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation may use photographs submitted in this contest to promote sustainable and responsible recreation in the National Marine Sanctuary System. These photos are not for sale and are not for commercial use unless prior permission is arranged.