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.

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 snacking on a sponge in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

All submitted photos

Sea Nettles
Sea nettles drift above metridium anemones just off Cannery Row in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jon Anderson
market squid
Market squid aggregate to mate in the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jon Anderson
Snowy Plover in the sand
Western Snowy Plover, Marina State Beach, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Photo: Steve Zmak
Snowy plover in the sand
Western Snowy Plover, Marina State Beach, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary Photo: Steve Zmak
Chicks squabbling
Black Crowned Night Heron chicks. Photo: Jerry Loomis
Bird in the water
Green Heron, Carmel Valley, California. Photo: Jerry Loomis
Humpback tail
A playful humpback whale splashes at the surface as a flock of brown pelicans fly by in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
Whale tail with birds
A playful humpback whale splashes at the surface as a flock of brown pelicans fly by in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
dolphins leaping out of the water
Two common dolphin leap out of the water in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dustin Harris
whale tail
I took this series of photos of a Blue Whale fluking in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. My husband, Paul Petrich, and I were on our “date day” on the Condor Express, whale watching boat, out of Santa Barbara. Paul and I are both volunteers for NOAA through the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, and I recorded the sighting on Ocean Alert even though we were regular, paying passengers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue Whales seldom fluke, as you know, so this series shows how an anybody can get an amazing shot with a cell phone. It’s all about being in the right Sanctuary at the right time. Photo: Tara Brown-Petrich
whale tail
I took this series of photos of a Blue Whale fluking in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. My husband, Paul Petrich, and I were on our “date day” on the Condor Express, whale watching boat, out of Santa Barbara. Paul and I are both volunteers for NOAA through the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, and I recorded the sighting on Ocean Alert even though we were regular, paying passengers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue Whales seldom fluke, as you know, so this series shows how an anybody can get an amazing shot with a cell phone. It’s all about being in the right Sanctuary at the right time. Photo: Tara Brown-Petric
whale tail
I took this series of photos of a Blue Whale fluking in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. My husband, Paul Petrich, and I were on our “date day” on the Condor Express, whale watching boat, out of Santa Barbara. Paul and I are both volunteers for NOAA through the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, and I recorded the sighting on Ocean Alert even though we were regular, paying passengers because of the COVID-19 pandemic. Blue Whales seldom fluke, as you know, so this series shows how an anybody can get an amazing shot with a cell phone. It’s all about being in the right Sanctuary at the right time. Photo: Tara Brown-Petric
whale tail
I took this series of photos of a Blue Whale fluking in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tara Brown-Petric
Herring Gull
Herring Gull with reflection, Santa Cruz, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Moray Eel
California Moray Eel - in depth in Channel Islands National Park Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
Nudibranch swirl
Nudibranch Swirl (photo taken through reflective plumbing pipe) in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
Dolphin leaping out of the water
An offshore bottlenose dolphins goes for big air. Just off Santa Cruz Island in the Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft
Bermuda Chubs
Bermuda Chubs at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Cocoa damsel fish
Cocoa Damselfish at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
long spined sea urchin
A Long-Spined Sea Urchin at night in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stan Schone
French angelfish up close
French Angelfish at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Juvenile blue angelfish
Juvenile Blue Angelfishat Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Loggerhead turtle
Loggerhead Turtle at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Marbled Grouper
Marbled Grouper at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Neon Goby
Neon Goby at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Painted elysia
Painted Elysia at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
red night shrimp
Red Night Shrimp at East Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
ridged slipper lobster
Ridged Slipper Lobster at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
Rock hind
Rock Hind at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
Seaweed blenny
Seaweed Blenny at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Burek
spotted moray Eel
Spotted Moray Eel at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
spotted scorpionfish
Spotted Scorpionfish at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
squirrelfish
Squirrelfish 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 hanging out in a crevice on the Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stan Schone
Yellowmouth grouper
Yellowmouth Grouper at Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Frank Burek
atlantic spade fish
Atlantic Spadefish at the Benwood Wreck off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda
bristleworm
Bristle worm in shallows around Fort Jefferson near Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Brown noddy
Brown Noddy on rusted base around Fort Jefferson near Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jenna Biggs
Gray Angelfish
Gray Angelfish at Molasses Reef off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda
Green sea turtle and nurse shark
Green Sea Turtle and Nurse Shark at Snapper Ledge off Key Largo. 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 in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Jill Brown
christmas worms
Christmas Tree Worms 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 the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Liah McPherson
Nurse shark
Eye contact with a Nurse Shark at Pickles Reef off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda
spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray flying through Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
spotted eagle ray
Spotted eagle ray flying through Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
Elkhorn coral
Elkhorn coral on Pickles Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, Key Largo Florida. Photo: Andrew Ibarra
queen angelfish
Queen Angel among Schoolmaster snappers in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: William Brown
snook
Snook in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: William Brown
nudibranch
Ercolania sp. near Anini Beach, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
breaching humpback
Breaching whale, Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
breaching whale
Breaching whale, Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
breaching whale
Breaching whale, Maalaea Bay near Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tom Ayers
sea turtle
Honu, wrapped, cut free by Doug and Ed Lyman. Photo: Doug Boyd
nudibranch
Goniobranchus decorus (Decorated Nudibranch) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Caloria sp. #3 in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Hypselodoris infucata (Painted Nudibranch) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Hypselodoris infucata (Painted Nudibranch)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 Humback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a Blackside Hawkfish resting on coral with a Four Spot Butterfly fish and Arc-eye Hawkfish in the background. Photo: Bill Pigott
moray eel and fish
I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a Bluefin Trevally and a Moray Eel during mutualistic hunting. Photo: Bill Pigott
green sea turtle
I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. This photo shows a SCUBA diver observing a green sea turtle from a distance. Photo: Bill Pigott
green sea turtle
I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humback 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 heading toward the surface. Photo: Bill Pigott
goatfish and octopus
I took this photo in the Pupukea Marine Life Conservation District of Hawaiian Islands Humback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. The photo shows a face to face meetup between a Hawaiian day octopus and goatfish. Photo: Bill Pigott
nudibranch
Halgerda terramtuentis (endemic Gold Lace Nudibranch) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Hypselodoris peasei (Pease’s Nudibranch, aka Locust Nudibranch) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Ardeadoris angustolutea (Yellow Margin Nudibranch, aka Orange Creamsicle Sea Goddess) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: April McCormack
nudibranch
Ardeadoris angustolutea (Yellow Margin Nudibranch, aka Orange Creamsicle Sea Goddess) 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 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 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 from Laguna Grande Seaside, California. Photo: Jerry Loomis
vultures
Beach clean up crew, naturally. These turkey vultures 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 are agile and athletic once they hit the water! So fun to watch these two playing. Photo: Douglas Croft
pelicans
Pelicans circling at the bird sanctuary at Carmel River State Beach. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
common dolphins
Common dolphins playing alongside our boat in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft
seal scratching head
Contemplation, Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sancutary. Photo: Dennis Segers
cormorants
Courting Cormerant, Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Dennis Segers
curlew taking off
A curlew takes off out of an incoming wave at Marina State Beach. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
great blue heron
Great Blue Heron in China Cove at Point Lobos SRA. Photo: Jerry Loomis
whale with open mouth out of the water and birds flying around
Feeding Frenzy on Monterey Bay. Humpback whales lunge through a school of anchovies at the surface while gulls circle, waiting to feast on the leftovers. Photo: Douglas Croft
godwits
Two Godwits at Marina State Beach. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
gull over kelp
A gull flies over kelp beds in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
Heermann’s Gull 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 on Monterey Bay. 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 breach. Photo: Douglas Croft
humpback feeding above water
Anchovies fly as a humpback whale lunges from beneath them. Monterey Bay 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
In flight, Point Lobos near Monterey Bay National Marine Sancutary Photo: Dennis Segers
nudibranch
Nudibranch Explosion in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
jellyfish
Jellyfish Eclipse in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
sealions
Sea Lion Ballet in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
nudibranch
Lion’s Mane Nudibranch in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks
blue crab
Teeny blue crab at Mavericks tide pools. Photo: Audrey West
sea star
Sea star making a comeback at Mavericks tide pools. Photo: Audrey West
osprey
Osprey hunting in Harkin Slough. Photo: Jerry Loomis
otter
Otter at Elkhorn Slough. Photo: Dennis Segers
pigeon guillemot
Pigeon Guillemot under Cannery Row. 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
Seals swim in kelp beds in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
seals in kelp
Seals look up curiously at the camera in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kate Sutter
sea otter
A southern sea otter with a double crab feast. Photo: Douglas Croft
godwits
Early morning picture of godwits on Marina State Beach. Photo: Lisa Carpenter
woodduck
Wood duck from Neary Lagoon in 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. Photo: Tiffany Duong
nurse shark
A school of nurse sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum) swim up in the water column with divers at Spanky’s Reef. 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 are relatively easy to spot against the black rocks and bright green sea grass of their native habitat. Photo: Meg McWhinney
harbor seal and pup
Harbor Seal mother and pup rest after a swimming lesson on the Pacific Grove 5th St Beach. Photo: Meg McWhinney
brants cormorant
Absolutely my favorite birds to watch during the breeding season, this pair of Brant’s Guillemots begin to build a nest on the edge of the Monterey Jetty Pier. Photo: Meg McWhinney
leatherback
A draw with the whale watching boats right now, this mature female Leatherback Turtle floats just above the submarine Monterey Canon Rim looking for jellyfish. Photo: Meg McWhinney
sea lion pups
Two California Sea Lion pups comfort each other after their arrival at Monterey Jetty Pier. Photo: Meg McWhinney
snowy egret
A Snowy Egret searches the Point Lobos Weston Beach tide pools for food during the King Tide’s lowest tidal point. Photo: Meg McWhinney
harborseal pup
A lone Harbor Seal pup in evening light waits for its mother to return to the Pacific Grove 5th St. Beach. 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.