2021 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.

Western snowy plover on a beach with bands
1st Place: Yvonne P Wright. Western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) at Seaside State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
A seahorse in mangroves.
2nd Place: Patrick Malloy. Lined seahorse (Hippocampus erectus) found in mangroves of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
giant trevally fish
3rd Place: Kimberly Jeffries. A curious giant trevally (Caranx ignobilis) comes in for a look at Kapou (Lisianski) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.

All submitted photos

Common dolphins swimming under a rainbow.
Common dolphins (Delphinus delphis) play in a passing boat wake in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Cruz Island. Photo: Dustin Harris.
Dolphin surfacing for a breath.
A Common dolphin (Delphinus sp.), one of about a thousand dolphins in this megapod, glides effortlessly over the waters of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, offshore of Santa Cruz Island. Photo: Aubrie Fowler.
Garibaldi swimming beneath kelp.
Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundus) at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, Anacapa Island. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
A close up of a garibaldi fish.
Garibaldi (Hypsypops rubicundusin) movement at Ancapa Island, part of Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Leta Dawson .
Humpback lunge-feeding beneath some pelicans.
Just off Santa Cruz Island, Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, a feeding frenzy took place near the east end, with humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunge-feeding through a bait-ball, with brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), common dolphin (Delphinus delphis), and western gulls (Larus occidentalis) cleaning up the leftovers. Photo: Dustin Harris.
Fox pup peering at the camera.
A Santa Cruz Island fox (Urocyon littoralis) pup curiously explores Channel Islands National Park kayak guide site at Scorpion Anchorage on Santa Cruz Island, which is surrounded by Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Aubrie Fowler.
Sea Lions sitting on rocks.
Sea lions (Zalophus californianus) on Anacapa island, part of Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Tricia Leskiw.
Western gull chick along a rocky mountian edge above the ocean waves below.
Western gull chick (Larus occidentalis) prepares for its first flight over Anacapa Island in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kristina Stodder.
Up close view of a jackfish eye.
Jack fish (Caranx sp.) at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Russell L. Wilkins Jr.
Up close of a red coral shrimp.
Night life red coral shrimp (Cinetorhynchus rigens) at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Russell L. Wilkins Jr.
Spider crab
"Spiders" on Stetson Bank in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Russell L. Wilkins Jr.
Atlantic spadefish swimming around a barrel sponge.
Atlantic spadefish (Chaetodipterus faber) hover near a barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta) at Molasses Reef within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Giant barracuda swimming in the water column.
Great barracuda (Sphyraena barracuda) in the water column of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Flamingo tongue snail on a rock.
Flamingo Tongue Snail (Cyphoma gibbosum) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
French angelfish swimming by purple sea rods.
French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) making his way past a purple sea rod (Plexaura homomallaat) at French Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Up close of a gray angelfish.
Gray angelfish (Pomacanthus arcuatus) making its way along French Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
A close  up view of a green and red spotted graysby.
A graysby (Cephalopholis cruentata) peers out of its home on the Hannah M. Bell, also known as Mike's Wreck to locals, in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Silverman.
Grouper and angelfish at a reef.
Graysby Grouper (Cephalopholis cuentata) and a Rock Beauty Angelfish (Holacanthus tricolor) share some space at Molasses Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Green sea turtle swimming between coral.
Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swims between mountainous star coral (Orbicella faveolata) colonies at Sand Key Sanctuary Preservation Area within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Ben Edmonds.
Snappers and grunts swimming through bentwood wreck.
Schoolmaster snappers (Lutjanus apodus), blue striped grunts (Haemulon sciurus), and a caesar grunt (Haemulon carbonarium) seem to guard an entrance at the (Benwood Wreck) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Sea slug hanging out on a rock.
Lettuce sea slug (Elysia crispata) out of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
Blue nudibranch on the reef.
A blue nudibranch (Glaucus atlanticus) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
Nurse shark below the surface in front of mangrove trees.
A nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum) swims near mangroves in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
Parrotfish swimming in the reef.
Parrotfish (Sparisoma sp.) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
A pederson cleaner shrimp with blue legs.
A pederson cleaner shrimp (Periclimenes pedersoni) peers up from its hideout on the Hannah M. Bell wreck, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Silverman.
Queen angelfish and rainbow parrotfish swimming through a reef.
French angelfish (Pomacanthus paru) making his way past a purple sea rod (Plexaura homomallaat) at French Reef within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Grunts swimming in front of a sea fan.
French grunts (Haemulon flavolineatum) with a lone cottonwick grunt (Haemulon melanurum) are framed nicely by a large sea fan (Gorgonia sp.) at Conch Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Green sea turtle swimming with a school of jacks right below the surface.
Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) with school of jacks (Caranx sp.) in Florida Keys Straights within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Cindy L Casey.
Yellow coral on a reef.
Staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Michael Schilling.
Tarpon swimming by.
Tarpon (Megalops atlanticus) in the water column at Molasses Reef in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
A swimming school of tomate grunts around a shipwreck.
Mostly tomtate grunts (Haemulon aurolineatum) on a mad dash around the (Benwood Wreck) in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary off Key Largo. Photo: Daryl Duda.
Common murres drying their wings by flapping them.
The common murres (Uria aalge) were frequently seen beating excess water off their wings before preening themselves in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong.
Great white shark attacking prey in the water with birds flying above.
Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) feeding at Farallon Islands in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: James Moskito.
Great white shark attacking prey among the frenzy of splashing water with birds flying above.
Great white shark (Carcharodon carcharias) feeding on an elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) at The Farallons in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: James Moskito.
Three Orcas swimming by a coast.
Transient orcas (Orcinus orca) passing under the lighthouse at Southeast Farallon Island, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: James Moskito.
Pigeon guillemot flying over the waves.
This pigeon guillemot (Cepphus columba) showed off its white wing patches and red feet as it came in for a landing in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong
Two Risso's dolphins swimming by a large rock.
Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseusat) in Southeast Farallon Island in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: James Moskito.
Gull soaring over the water.
This adult sabine's gull (Xema sabini) showed off its striking breeding colors as it was fishing near some gulls and shearwaters in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong
Guitarfish laying in the sand.
Guitarfish (Rhinobatos lentiginosus) in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Rachael Rourke.
Sheepshead floating along the reef.
Sheepshead (Archosargus probatocephalus) in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Rachael Rourke.
Arc-eye hawkfish peeking out of a coral.
An arc-eye hawkfish (Paracirrhites arcatus) peeks out from a cauliflower coral (Pocillopora meandrina) during a dive in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Anna Baker Mikkelsen.
Green sea turtle swimming over coral.
Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming above the seafloor off the coast of Hilo, Hawai'i in Hawaii Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sarah Jeanne Norrbom.
Green sea turtle swimming over coral.
Green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) swimming off the coast of Hilo, Hawai'i within Hawaii Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sheyanne Mendez.
Hawaiian monk seal and pup laying in the wake.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) Kaiwi and her pup Lolii. Lolii tag number P96/97 was born on Kaimana Beach on April 26, 2021 in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seal on the shore at sunset.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) Lolii born on Kaimana Beach on April 26, 2021 in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seals playing the shallows.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) Kaiwi and her pup Lolii born April 26, 2021 on Kaimana Beach in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seal peering out from behind a tree trunk.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) name Lolii born April 26, 2021 on Kaimana Beach, Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seal and pup in the waves.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) mom Kaiwi and her pup Lolii born April 26, 2021 on Kaimana Beach, Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Sunbathing Hawaiian monk seals.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) mom and pup on Kaimana Beach, Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seals playing on the shore.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) pup Lolii on Kaimana Beach on Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seal on the shore.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) pup Lolii born April 26, 2021 on Kaimana Beach on Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Hawaiian monk seal in the waves.
Hawaiian monk seal (Monachus schauinslandi) pup Leihilo born on May 12, 2021 on Mokuleia Beach, Oahu in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Its mama is L42. Photo: Joyce Hsieh.
Mother and baby seal playing in the water.
Mother and baby seal in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Linda Woo.
Soldier fish swimming under an overhang.
A school of mempachi (Myripristis sp.) thrive under a large overhang in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Anna Baker Mikkelsen.
Red-tailed tropic bird flying over light house.
A red-tailed tropic bird (Phaethon rubricauda) cruising over Kīlauea Lighthouse, Kauai, in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Anna Baker Mikkelsen.
Turkeyfish hovering by some coral.
A hawaiian turkeyfish (Pterois sphex) peeks out among stony coral (Scleractinian) in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Anna Baker Mikkelsen.
Humpback whale tail above water and two jumping dolphins.
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) and spinner dolphins (Stenella longirostrisat) at Sugar Beach located in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Taylor-Rose Stone.
Southern sea otter holding a dungeness crab.
A southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) with a dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Albatross flying above orca pod.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) effortlessly follows the high-speed orca (Orcinus orca) pod at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Black-footed albatross gliding over the waves.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Cloe-up of  Sea Anemone with long tentacles.
Sea anemone (Anthopleura xanthogrammica) in the tide pool in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Anemomne in the water column.
White-spotted rose anemone (Urticina lofotensis) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, San Carlos Beach. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Baird's Beaked Whale
Insanely rare sighting of Baird's beaked whales (Berardius bairdii) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. This was the first photo-match for an individual of this species; I documented this same pod in Monterey Bay in 2019. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Array of bird species on the beach.
Feasting time for sooty shearwaters (Ardenna grisea), long billed curlews (Numenius americanus), and western snowy plovers (Charadrius alexandrinus nivosus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Black-footed albatross flying above the ocean.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) soars above the waters of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Albatross skimming the surface of the water.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) flying seemingly very effortlessly searching for food in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A few would come to inspect our boat thinking it was a fishing vessel. Photo: Patrick Sysiong.
Albatross floating on the water.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) on the water in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong.
Albatross bobbing on the water.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong.
Albatross flying over the water.
Black-footed albatross (Phoebastria nigripes) flying in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Patrick Sysiong.
Spotted Jelly in the water column.
A spotted jelly (Phyllorhiza punctata) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was an intern there in 2015 and given access to their camera closet and free reign of the exhibits. Photo: Tessa Terrill.
Brown pelican flying.
This brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is coming in for a landing. It was flying in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary near Santa Cruz, California. When it is diving for food, it tucks its head in and turns its body to the left. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Brown pelican sitting on a rock.
This young brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) is resting on a natural bridge in Santa Cruz, California by Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Child on rocks surrounded by tide pools filled with purple sea urchins.
Future NOAA scientist checking out purple sea urchins (Strongylocentrotus purpuratus) in the tide pools of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Shakira Ortiz.
Convict Tangs swimming in the reef.
Taken in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, this photo shows a school of convict tangs (Acanthurus triostegus) cruising over a Hawaiian reef. Photo: Bill Pigott.
Cormorant floating above kelp.
Brandt's cormorant (Urile penicillatus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, San Carlos Beach. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Dorsal fin of an Orca whale.
The dorsal fin of a large male orca (Orcinus orca) named "Orion" in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Elephant seal laying on the beach.
This male northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) just beached out of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary near Año Nuevo, California. He was defending his small territory from the lager beachmaster. The largest male can grow to 20 feet long and and weigh over 8,000 pounds. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Northern elephant seal female with pup resting its head on her.
Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) mother and pup resting on the beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Elephant seal laying on beach.
Battle worn: Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) at Piedras Blancas NP in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Female elephant seals on the beach.
These two adult female northern elephant seals and pup (Mirounga angustirostris) are in a breeding ground along Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary near Año Nuevo. They can swim around 60 miles per day and hold their breath for about 100 minutes. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Two sand covered northern elephant seals peering up.
Two northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) pups nursing in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Female elephant seal on the beach with her pup.
This female northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) is nursing her pup. They are on a breeding ground along Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary at Año Nuevo. The mothers fast and nurse for around 28 days. The mom will lose up to one third of her weight during breeding season. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Family of elephant seals lounging on the beach.
This is my family. Elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) at Piedras Blancas Nature Preserve in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Breaching humpback whale blow surrounded by a frenzy of birds.
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) joins brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis), western gulls (Larus occidentalis), and sooty shearwaters (Ardenna grisea) for a feeding frenzy of anchovies (Engraulis sppnear) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary near the surface. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Blackeye Goby in the water column.
Blackeye goby (Rhinogobiops nicholsii) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, San Carlos Beach. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Gray whale surfacing above the water.
Gray whale (Eschrichtius robustus) surfacing for a breath in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary on its migration north to Alaska for the summer. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Green Sea Turtle swimming over some coral.
Taken in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, this photo shows a Hawaiian green sea turtle, (Chelonia mydas) looking upward towards the surface. Photo: Bill Pigott.
Green Sea Turtle swimming in the reef.
Taken in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, this photo shows a Hawaiian green sea turtle (Chelonia mydas) hanging out on a reef. Photo: Bill Pigott.
Harbor seal swimming with head above water and eyes closed.
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) swimming in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
A harbor seal and a pup at the shoreline.
A harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) mother and pup exit the water after a swim in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Above view of harbor seal adult and pup in the water.
Mother and pup harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) playing in a drifting kelp paddy. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Harbor seal with eyes closed and head above water.
Sleepy harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Harbor seal swimming beneath the kelp with sun rays shining through.
Harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) swims among kelp in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stefanie Flax.
Harbor seal snuggled alongside a pup in the sand.
A harbor seal (Photo vitulina) snuggles alongside her pup near Hopkins Marine Station on the shores of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Harbor seals laying out on the shore among rocks and pebbles.
Harbor seals (Phoca vitulina) taking in the sun in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Fernando Mejia Gonzalez.
Harbor seal mother and pup nursing at the shoreline.
A harbor seal pup (Phoca vitulina) nurses from its mother at Hopkins Marine Station on the shores of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Two Hawaiin Monk Seals dancing under the waves.
Two Hawaiian monk seals (Neomonachus schauinslandi) frolicking in the water in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bill Pigott.
A humpback whale breaching at the surface surrounded by seabirds.
Summer views of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. A humpback whale and sooty shearwaters feed in the vastness of the Bay. Photo: Douglas Croft.
A group of humpback whales feeding alongside dolphins and birds.
A pair of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) feed at the surface of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Humpback whale emerging up from water's surface.
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunge feeding on anchovies (Engraulidae sp.) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Humpback whale emerging up from water's surface.
Anchovies (Engraulidaewere sp.) once again on the menu this morning! It's so incredible to watch these giant humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) swim after so many fish in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! If you're lucky, they will feed right on the surface lunging up, mouth open, engulfing a huge mouthful. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Humpback whales feeding at the water surface.
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) lunge feeding in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kathyrn Hoffman.
Humpback breaching and twisting.
Twist and (Humans will) Shout - Adult humpback (Megaptera novaeangliae) twisting during a massive breach almost fully out of the water in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Humpback whale breaching as a gull flies overhead.
Lunge feeding humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Humpback whale jumping backwards out of the water.
A humpback whale calf (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaching in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Breaching Humpback whale.
The amazing acrobatic displays from these humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Humpback whales feeding alongside sea lions with water splashing up around them.
Feeding frenzy of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) alongside sea lions (Zalophus californianus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kathyrn Hoffman.
humpback breaching near two sea lions
Two judgmental California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) comment on the quality of the humpback whale's (Megaptera novaeangliae) breach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Humpback whale jumping back into the water.
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) fluke in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Humpback whale tail emerging above the water surface.
Humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) fluke during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Humpback breaching, trying to high-five a passing bird.
A humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breaches out of the water in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Two humpbacks swimming and breaching.
Breach-a-thon: Two humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) showed their stuff for over two hours in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Humpack lunging to feed on anchovies.
Humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae) will migrate to feed on anchovies (Engraulidae sp.) and other small prey items in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary during the summer and fall. This humpback does a vertical lunge feed giving a great look at its baleen and its prey. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Moon Jellyfish swimming below kelp.
Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Carmel Outer Pinnacles. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Moon Jellyfish swimming in the kelp forest.
Moon jellyfish (Aurelia aurita) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Carmel Outer Pinnacles. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Blubber Jelly in the water column.
A blubber jelly (Catostylus mosaicus) at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. I was an intern there in 2015 and was given free reign of their DSLR camera/lens closet and the exhibits. Photo: Tessa Terrill.
Jellyfish swim beneath California sea lions.
Brown sea nettle (Chrysaora fuscesens), sea lions (Zalophus californianus), and Brandt's cormorant (Urile penicillatus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, San Carlos Beach. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Bass hidden behind kelp.
Kelp bass (Paralabrax clathratus) hiding in giant kelp (Macrosystis pyrifera) at Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary.
Lingcod in a kelp forest
Lingcod (Ophiodon elongatus) in a kelp forest in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: James Moskito.
Child walking along a vast coast by the water.
Exploring Carmel Lagoon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Leatherback turtle head poking above water surface.
Pacific leatherback turtles (Dermochelys coriaceaswim) travel over 6,000 miles from its Indonesian nesting shores to Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary to feed on the California coast. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Godwit foraging in the surf.
A marbled godwit (Limosa fedoa) forages in the steep surf zone at Moss Landing State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kameron Strickland.
Godwit standing in the surf.
A marbled godwit (Limosa fedoa) forages in the surf zone at Moss Landing State Beach at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kameron Strickland.
Many godwits foraging in the surf.
Marbled godwits (Limosa fedoa) forage at Moss Landing State Beach at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kameron Strickland.
Two Hawaiin Monk seals swimming together underwater.
This photo shows two Hawaiian monk seals (Neomonachus schauinslandi) engaged in a conversation underwater in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bill Pigott.
Above view of Northern Right Whale Dolphin above water surface.
A Northern right whale dolphin (Lissodelphis borealis) bow riding in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Lions Mane Nudibranch in the water column.
Lions mane nudibranch (Melibe leonina) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Del Monte Beach. Photo: Bruce Sudweeks.
Rose nudibranch in nestled in the reef.
A Hopkins rose nudibranch (Okenia rosacea) in Carmel, CA at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kameron Strickland.
Three-lined Aeolid in tidepools.
A three-lined aeolid (Orienthella trilineata) winds its way through the tidepools in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Opalescent nudibranch on the rocks.
An opalescent nudibranch (Hermissenda opalescens) patrols the rocky reef in search of food in Carmel, CA at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kameron Strickland.
Hammerhead Doto.
A show-quality hammerhead doto (Doto amyra), one of the smallest nudibranchs, in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Orca jumping fully out of water.
A female orca (Orcinus Orca) on the hunt in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Orca dorsal fin sticking above the water.
The male orca (Orcinus orca), "Bumper" (CA51C), swims through Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Orca whales swimming above water surface and spurting water from blowhole.
A pod of transient orcas (Orcinus orca) surface while traveling in search of their next meal in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. These top ocean predators are always an unforgettable sight anytime they make an appearance here. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
A pod of four Orcas swimming above the surface of the water.
Four orcas (Orcinus orcajumps) at the surface in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kathyrn Hoffman.
Female orca follwing her pod.
Gorgeous female orca (Orcinus orca) working hard for her pod in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
A pod of Orcas breaching and spurting water from their blowholes.
Orcas (Orcinus orca) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Two Orcas swimming alongside an Orca calf.
Three orcas (Orcinus orca), including "Orion" (CA51B), surface together in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Orca jumping fully out of water alongside a dolphin.
Orca (Orcinus orcajumps) completely out of the water alongside a dolphin in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kathyrn Hoffman.
Spyhopping orca.
A curious orca (Orcinus orca) spyhopping in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
A pod of five Orcas including two calves.
The CA51 pod of orcas (Orcinus orca), including matriarch "Star," swimming in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Pacific White Sided Dolphin mottled by sun rays.
A Pacific white-sided dolphin (Lagenorhynchus obliquidens) bow riding in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Juliana Cornett.
Pelican.
Brown pelican (Pelecanus occidentalis) at Point Lobos State Natural Reserve in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Two Brown Pelicans flying beside one another over the water.
Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Brown pelicans by the water and one standing on a rock with wings outstretched.
Brown pelicans (Pelecanus occidentalis) at Point Lobos in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Ed Stone.
Shorline of Monterey Bay at Sunset.
Walking along the shore at sunset at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cohen.
Peregrine falcon with open wings above the rocky coastline.
Peregrine falcon (Falco peregrinusat) at Big Sur in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Spiny brittle star arms.
Spiny brittle stars (Ophiothrix spiculata) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Risso's dolphin swimming above water with calf.
She's got her mother's smile! Newborn baby Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) swimming next to its mother in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Risso's dolphin surfacing above the water.
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Risso dolphin leaping to flee an unseen orca.
Risso's dolphin (Grampus griseus) leaps above attacking orca (Orcinus orca) just below the surface in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Robin Agarwal.
Two Risso's dolphins jumping out of the water.
Breaching Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseusat) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Risso dolphins chasing whale watch boat.
Two Risso's dolphins (Grampus griseus) leap out of the water while traveling towards our whale watch boat in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Sanderlings standing near waves.
Sanderling rest stop: Sanderling (Calidris alba) at Salinas Widlife Refuge at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Northern elephant seal females resting on the beach and one in the water.
Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) on San Simeon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Northern elephant seal females resting on the sand.
Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) moms are at break on San Simeon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Long coastline of northern elephant seals laying out in the sun.
Northern elephant seals (Mirounga angustirostris) along the coast of San Simeon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Two northern elephant seals playing by the waves at the shore.
Northern elephant seal (Mirounga angustirostris) females along the coast of San Simeon in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
School of anchovies in the water column.
Anchovies (Engraulis sp.) swarm in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Vicki Sarris.
Male northern elephant seal laying out along the shore.
Male northern elephant seal in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary (Mirounga angustirostris). Photo: James Moskito.
Harbor seal swimming beneath kelp with flippers extended out.
Monastery Beach gets the "seal of approval" with this harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Stefanie Flax.
Swimming California sea lion peaking its head above the surface.
This sea lion (Zalophus californianus) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary raised its head out of the water to look at a group of other sea lions nearby. They can eat 5 to 8 percent of their body weight in a single feeding. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
A hoard of California sea lions laying on a rock.
Sea lion (Zalophus californianus) refuge at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Sea lion perched on a rock above the water looking up.
California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) at Coast Guard Pier in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Ed Stone.
Sea lions out in the water with their flippers up.
California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
A group of sea lions in the water with their heads out.
California sea lions (Zalophus californianus) during a whale watching trip in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Yawning sea otter among floating kelp.
Wrapped up in a blanket of kelp, this southern sea otter (Enhydra lutris nereis) is waking up from his afternoon snooze in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Kaelyn DeYoung.
Sea otter on back in the water eating a crab.
Sea otter (Enhydra lutris) eating a dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) on its back in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Sea otter on back in the water with mouth open eating a crab.
Hungry sea otter (Enhydra lutris) eating a dungeness crab (Metacarcinus magister) in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Sandra Cunha-Rocha.
Harbor seal laying on its back with its tongue sticking out.
A silly harbor seal (Phoca vitulina) in the Elkhorn Slough within Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Snowy Egret standing in the sea foam
This snowy egret (Egretta thula) is feeding along the edge of ocean waves at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. It was a windy day in Santa Cruz, California, and the delicate feathers were blowing in the wind. Photo: Elizabeth Van Dyke.
Elegant Tern flock flying over beach.
Elegant tern flock: Elegant terns (Thalasseus elegans) taken at Moss Landing Harbor in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Purple urchins on a rock surrounding a single stalk of kelp.
Purple urchins (Strongylocentrous purpuratus) threaten the remaining bull kelp (Nereocystis luetkeana) beds along the Pacific Coast at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Abbey Dias.
Western snowy plover sitting in the sand.
Western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) at Carmel River State Beach on the shores of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Emily Pomeroy.
Snowy plover ready to take flight.
Western snowy plover (Charadrius nivosus nivosus) at Seaside State Beach in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Yvonne P Wright.
Vertical breaching Humpback whale.
As we sat in neutral, this humpback whale (Megaptera novaeangliae) breached and spyhopped and chinslapped all around our boat for over an hour. It was quite a display of stamina! Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Douglas Croft.
Atlantic spotted dolphin breaching.
An Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) rides the bow waves of the RV Shearwater in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Losavio.
Atlantic spotted dolphin jumping above the water.
An Atlantic spotted dolphin (Stenella frontalis) jumps up alongside the RV Shearwater in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Losavio.
Two Atlantic spotted dolphins swimming alongside one another above the water.
A pair of Atlantic spotted dolphins (Stenella frontalis) play in the wake of a research vessel patrolling Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Losavio.
Person holding a sargassum swimming crab and clump of sargassum.
A sargassum swimming crab (Portunus sayi) found amongst the sargassum in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Mark Losavio.
Branching staghorn coral at an atoll below the shallow surface.
Close up of a branching staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) at Palmyra Atoll, part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Photo: Adi Khen.
Branching staghorn coral at an atoll below the shallow surface.
Branching staghorn coral (Acropora cervicornis) at Palmyra Atoll, part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Photo: Adi Khen.
Branching staghorn coral at an atoll below the shallow surface.
Stony corals (Acropora millepora) at Palmyra Atoll, part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Photo: Adi Khen.
Table coral at an atoll below the shallow surface.
Table coral (Acropora spp.) at Palmyra Atoll, part of Pacific Remote Islands Marine National Monument. Photo: Adi Khen.
Many colorfull fish all together on the reef.
Colorful life at Midway - Morwong (Goniistius vittatus), spectacled parrotfish (Chlorurus perspicillatus), whitetip soldierfish (Myripristis vittata), and yellow tang (Zebrasoma flavescens) at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
Fish swimming beneath an outcrop of the reef.
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument is home to a high number of endemic fish found nowhere else like this Hawaiian morwong (Goniistisus vittatus). Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
A galapagos shark swims by near a giant trevally
Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis), and Giant Trevally (Caranx ignobilis) friends above, in Hōlanikū (Kure) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
Galapagos shark curiously eyeing the camera.
Galapagos shark (Carcharhinus galapagensis) comes in close to inspect their reflection in Hōlanikū, Kure Atoll, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
Fish seperated by two layers of reef.
Spectacled parrotfish (Chlorurus perspicillatus) and Hawaiian bigeye (Priacanthus meeki) peek out from their shady stony coral (acropora cytherea) home in Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
Spotted knife jaw pearing out from beneath coral.
A juvenile spotted knife jaw (Oplegnathus punctatus) peeks out from their stony coral (acropora cytherea) home in Lalo (French Frigate Shoals) Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
White tip reef shark gliding over the reef.
Dive buddies of all kinds - A whitetip reef shark (Triaenodon obsess) and scientist cruise over the reef at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Kimberly Jeffries.
Humpback whale diving back under the waves.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted several pods of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). I captured this shot of the whale's fluke as it made its graceful plunge back into the ocean below. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Humpback whale pod lifting their fins sbove the water.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted several pods of humpback whales (Megaptera novaeangliae). Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Leatherback taking a breath.
While out boating one afternoon on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted this leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) ahead in the distance. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Leatherback popping its head out of the water.
While out boating one afternoon on Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted this leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) ahead in the distance before the turtle spotted us and dove under. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Lestherback taking a breath.
While out boating one afternoon at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted this leatherback turtle (Dermochelys coriacea) swimming ahead. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Minke Whale taking a breath at the surface.
While whale watching from our boat at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, we spotted a minke whale (Balaenoptera acutorostrata) idly coasting along in the distance. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Sunfish surfacing near a boat.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted this yellow mass ahead in the distance. As we neared, we cut the engine and just sat idle as this sunfish (Mola mola) floated right up alongside our boat! Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Sunfish surfacing by a boat.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted this sunfish (Mola mola) that floated up alongside our boat. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Sunfish at the surface.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted a sunfish (Mola mola) up ahead. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Sunfish fin at the surface.
While boating at Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary, my husband and I spotted a sunfish (Mola mola) in the distance. As we drew near, we cut our engine and idled. I caught this shot of its fin sparkling in the afternoon sun, while side-swimming the ocean, as Sunfish do. Photo: Aimee Beth Grace.
Northern water snake in shallow water among pebbles.
Northern water snake (Nerodia sipedon) in a creek flowing into Lake Huron at Rockport State Recreation Area in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Angela Addington.

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.