Our planet is an ocean planet: Earth Is Blue. The National Marine Sanctuary System protects some of the most iconic underwater places throughout the United States, but we can't do it without you. 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.
Submit your own photos and join us on:
We've proposed a new national marine sanctuary in Lake Ontario! Get to know the proposed area in our video. Learn how you can weigh in.
North Atlantic right whales are one of the world's most endangered ocean species. Learn what we and our partners are doing to protect them in our video.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is known for big charismatic animals like orcas and sea otters. But how much do you know about the smaller animals, like sea stars, that dwell here?
Some 200 shipwrecks rest in the protected waters of NOAA Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. These wrecks tell stories of our Great Lakes maritime history. Today, get to know the tug W.G. Mason!
Strange creatures live in the deep waters of your National Marine Sanctuary System! Check out this polychaete worm that researchers found in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is well-known for animals like orcas and sea lions. But do you know the other animals that live there?
Along the California coastline not far from San Francisco, Bolinas Lagoon is a magical place for birders, wildlife watchers, paddlers, and more. Recently, Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has been working with partners to restore this special habitat so it can thrive and adapt to future changes.
Dive in to the majestic Molokini Crater in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary!
Have you ever seen a gray seal while visiting your sanctuaries? Learn about this pinniped in our video!
Giant sea bass are at the top of the food web in the kelp forest ecosystem in places like Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Learn about these elusive behemoths in our video, and check out new research about this important species.
You've heard of an octopus's garden - but have you ever seen one? Check out the many octopuses spotted in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary by researchers with Nautilus Live this fall!
Take a dive into the deep at the wreck of Paul Palmer in NOAA's Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary!
Corals? In the Gulf of Mexico? It's true! Dive in with us to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and experience some of the healthiest coral reefs in the world.
Want to be an ocean hero and help fight marine debris? Learn more about plastic pollution and how you can help in our video!
Do you know the difference between manta rays and mobulas? Learn how to tell them apart in our video!
Our nation's first national marine sanctuary, Monitor National Marine Sanctuary, protects a Civil War-era shipwreck off the coast of North Carolina. But resting on the seafloor about 240 feet below the surface, Monitor can be difficult to get to. Check out our Story from the Blue to learn how the sanctuary collaborated with artist Wayne White and the Virginia Museum of Contemporary Art to bring this shipwreck, and its story, to life.
Every August, the reef-building corals of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary put on a fantastic spawning display. It is one of the most abundant coral spawning displays in the entire Caribbean due to the high density cover of broadcast spawning species.
"Every time my young song Luke says 'Dad, I want to go fishing, I watch to catch tarpon,' I'm reminded that I better to do my part now to make sure that that future is available to him." Watch our video to hear Volunteer of the Year Captain Will Benson's Story from the Blue. You can learn more about the Blue Star Fishing Guide program and support a sustainable Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.
In the late 1800s, northern elephant seals were thought to be extinct after decades of extensive commercial hunting. But in the last century, these seals have made an amazing recovery! Today, you can see northern elephant seals throughout Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
Hawaiian monk seals are found throughout Hawai‘i, including in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. These endangered seals need our help! Learn what you can do in this video, and at https://www.fisheries.noaa.gov/species/hawaiian-monk-seal.
Hannah MacDonald grew up with Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in her backyard, and started volunteering with the sanctuary as a high school student. "For me, national marine sanctuaries are much more than protected underwater parks," she says. "It's the national marine sanctuaries that have changed my life and set me on a career path that I am super passionate about and I'm in love with." Watch our video to hear Hannah's Story from the Blue.
From the mountains to the sea, the ocean connects us all. Check out one example of this in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary!
Off the shores of North Carolina, countless shipwrecks serve as graves for merchant mariners and service members who sailed them during World War I and other wars. Watch our video to learn how Monitor National Marine Sanctuary is working to preserve these wrecks and the legacy they represent. o find out more about the proposal to expand the sanctuary's boundaries to protect additional shipwrecks visit monitor.noaa.gov.
Looking for adventure this summer? It's the perfect time to Get Into Your Sanctuary!
The Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is just one office among many within the National Oceanic & Atmospheric Administration, or NOAA. We work closely with many other offices, from research to marine debris cleanups! Find out how NOAA keeps our blue planet healthy in this video.
Sharks: scary? We think not! Check out our video to learn more about the crucial role sharks play in sanctuary ecosystems.
For surfer Todd Fischer, the Olympic Peninsula provides a bounty: "Mountains, trees, ocean, you name it. Anything you can do outdoors is here." Watch his Story from the Blue to learn why Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary makes for such an epic surf spot, and visit https://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/visit/surfing.html to learn about some of the other surf spots throughout your sanctuaries.
What are microplastics and how can you prevent this threat to marine ecosystems? Find out in this video!
In 2017, youth, educators and staff at 21st Century Community Learning Centers investigated their local watersheds during out-of-school time, thanks to a pilot program developed by NOAA, the U.S. Department of Education, and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.
In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, you can snorkel, dive, paddle, and more -- all while exploring our nation's maritime history.
The Friends of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary are bringing the world of cinema to northeast Michigan! From January 24 through 28, visitors to the sanctuary will be treated to some of the most impressive ocean and Great Lakes films from all around the world. Check out what's in store!
Roughly 95 percent of the ocean is still unexplored, and even parts of our national marine sanctuaries haven't yet been seen by human eyes. In 2014, researchers explored an area of Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary called "The Football" for the first time. Check out what they found -- including new and unexpected species! -- in our video. You can learn more about this newly-documented area at farallones.noaa.gov/science/football.html.
"The ocean, the land, the forest – everything goes hand-in-hand. That's what we like to pass on to our kids in the younger generations. To maintain our identity, that's the most important thing to us." Fu'ega Sa'ite Moliga captains a longboat for the annual fautasi races in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Learn about the fautasi, and why Moliga dedicates himself to this crew, in our Story from the Blue.
In national marine sanctuaries, boats aren't just boats. They're platforms for research, foundations for partnerships, and homes for scientists and crew out on the water. Boats help sanctuaries function, and help us understand and investigate these amazing places. So what's it like to be on one of our boats? Get a taste through this timelapse video from a research expedition in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary aboard the R/V Manta.
This year, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary celebrates its 25th anniversary. To celebrate, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries director John Armor took a dive in the sanctuary. Find out what he thought of his first dive there!
How big are leatherback sea turtles? How do they swim? Find this out and more in this video about leatherbacks in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary.
This week, we celebrate our 45th anniversary! Take a trip back through our history and check out where we're headed in our video.
What's a whale fall? Find out in our video of this whale fall found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary!
Today, National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa protects a variety of environments throughout American Samoa. But this sanctuary started out as a tiny, quarter-mile protected area in Fagatele Bay. What makes Fagatele Bay so special? Find out in our video!
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary protects thriving, productive ecosystems that support all sorts of marine creatures -- including lobster. Check out our video to learn how the sanctuary and the NOAA Marine Debris Program are working with lobster fishermen to ensure lobster traps don’t endanger other species.
The historic Mallows Bay area of the Potomac River was nominated as a national marine sanctuary. Watch our video to learn about this amazing place!
"My concern is that our people are not doing enough to take care of our ocean, our water, our marine life, and our island. In order for it to be healthy, we need to get the word out." Paula Stevenson McDonald is the owner of South Pacific Watersports in American Samoa. Watch our video to hear her Story from the Blue and how she and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa create connections between people and the ocean.
Looking for a summer adventure? Join us on Saturday, August 12 for events across the country in celebration of Get Into Your Sanctuary day!
Shipwrecks in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary hold the secrets of our maritime past. Discover the story of the USS Cuba in our video!
Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary is one of the best places in the world to see endangered blue whales. But these whales are also at risk from ship strikes. Watch our video to learn about a unique program that brought shipping companies, nonprofits, and government agencies together to solve this problem and help protect whales!
Last year, maritime archaeologists in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary investigated historical "doghole ports." These tiny ports got their names because sailors said they were so small, only a dog could turn around in them. A network of doghole ports supported a thriving lumber industry. Check out our video to discover what the archaeologists found!
"The manner in which we care for our land is going to be the manner in which the ocean is going to reflect that," explains Sol Kaho‘ohalahala. Sol is a seventh-generation resident of the island of Lāna‘i, which is surrounded by the waters of Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Watch our video to hear his Story from the Blue.
The National Marine Sanctuary System honors America's past, serves the needs of today, and provides and defends for the future. It's a future that depends on these protected places -- learn more in our video!
Several miles off the shore of Northern California lies an underwater gem: Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary Watch our video to discover what makes this colorful habitat so lush.
Peter Taliva'a is the boat captain for National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. To him, the sanctuary community is strong because "we work together. Not individually, but as a family." Watch our video to hear Peter's Story from the Blue.
Not all animals in national marine sanctuaries live in the water. Birds are among the most visible elements of biodiversity in the marine environment. By tracking bird populations, scientists can better understand the state and health of the marine ecosystems that our communities and economies depend on.
In sanctuaries like Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, you'll find extraordinary opportunities to observe wildlife -- like elephant seals!
"Why do I care? Because we want clean water here and we want vibrant life." Bruce Popham runs the Marathon Boat Yard Marine Center and is a member of the Sanctuary Advisory Council for Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Check out his Story from the Blue to learn what the sanctuary means to him and how he is working to preserve the amazing ecosystems of the Florida Keys.
What lies in the deep waters of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa? This February, the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research used a remotely operated vehicle (ROV) to find out. Check out some of what they found in our video!
"Call nā po‘e ka lani, nā po‘e moana, nā po‘e ka hōnua -- the people of the heavens, the people of the ocean, and the people of the land, we're all just one big family in how we work together in preserving everything," says Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary volunteer Kimokeo Kapahulehua. Watch our video to hear Kimokeo's Kimokeo's story from the blue
Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Lindsay Marks is fighting invasive species in and around Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary -- and you can help! Learn how in her video.
Happy Whale Week! National marine sanctuaries are safe havens for humpback whales. Each winter, thousands of humpback whales migrate to Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to mate, calve, and raise their young, while each summer, others travel to Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary to feed. These whales can also be spotted in many sanctuaries in between! These protected areas are spectacular places to whale watch -- but always be sure to give the whales plenty of space. Learn more: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov/protect/oceanetiquette.html
Take a trip to the mangroves of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary! Our outreach team recently spent a day photographing wildlife in the sanctuary's mangrove forests. Mangroves like these stabilize the coastline, reducing erosion from storm surges, currents, waves, and tides, while also providing food and shelter to many species.
How do scientists in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary tag humpback whales? Very carefully! Attached temporarily with suction cups, these tags help researchers understand where whales are going and what sounds they're making.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary is home to 29 species of marine mammal -- including the sea lion!
How did you spend your holidays? Each year, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary teams up with the Audubon Society for the Stellwagen Bank Christmas Bird Count. Christmas Bird Count volunteers join sanctuary staff onboard the R/V Auk to survey a 15-mile-diameter area of the sanctuary. The data they collect can help assess the health of bird populations and of the sanctuary ecosystem. This year, citizen scientists counted triple the number of razorbills as last year's cruise, but spotted no northern fulmars or shearwaters, which are normally encountered in the sanctuary this time of year. They even spotted four tiny Atlantic puffins! Check out our video of a past Christmas Bird Count to learn more about this ongoing citizen science project.
As the year comes to a close, join us in celebrating the amazing sites of your National Marine Sanctuary System! What's your favorite ocean or Great Lakes memory from this year?
Indigenous tribes like the Quinault Indian Nation have depended on the ocean for millennia. Today, species like the razor clam provide Quinault members with sustenance and income. Watch our video to hear this Quinault Story from the Blue and to learn how Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary helps support culturally-important ecosystems!
Already thinking ahead to warmer summer days? Take a virtual diving trip to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary!
Do sharks always rule the seas? Think again! In places like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, it's not always predators that come out on top.
Nancy Foster Scholar Emily Aiken explains that through the scholarship and working with national marine sanctuaries, "I have the opportunity now to fully engage and reach my full potential -- and that has been incredible to experience." Check out our video to learn about Emily's Story from the Blue. Are you a graduate student in ocean sciences? Learn about the Nancy Foster Scholarship at fosterscholars.noaa.gov -- the application period is currently open!
Earlier this fall, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary joined students from Alcona Elementary School for the 2016 International Coastal Cleanup. Check out our video to learn how the sanctuary is working with the Northeast Michigan Great Lakes Stewardship Initiative to teach students the importance of keeping the Great Lakes clean!
Start your weekend off right with a tour of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!
Recently, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Reverb teamed up to show Guster what makes Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary so amazing. Check out our video to learn about the incredible whale watching opportunities the sanctuary's rich ecosystem supports, and how you can visit the sanctuary without even getting wet at the New England Aquarium!
The ocean covers approximately 70% of Earth's surface, and we all depend on it for everything from our climate and weather to the air we breathe. With that in mind, two years ago we launched Earth Is Blue, a celebration of the special ocean and Great Lakes places protected by the National Marine Sanctuary System. Check out some of the coolest clips from this year's videos! We can't wait to see what comes next.
This summer, Nancy Foster Scholarship alumna Dr. Nyssa Silbiger and her colleague Piper Wallingford researched the impacts of climate change on tidal ecosystems in several West Coast national marine sanctuaries. Key to their research was their mobile lab, the Bio Bus! Check out our video to learn about their adventures and research in national marine sanctuaries, and learn more about how you can become a Nancy Foster Scholar here!
Through his "Shipwreck Alley" class, high school teacher John Caplis has been connecting Alpena High School students directly to the nearby Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and through it, to Great Lakes history, ecology, geology, meteorology and more. "The idea that we're exposing two-thirds of every kid who graduates from Alpena High School to Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary and its mission and the positive effect it has on the community -- I think that's a powerful thing," he says. Watch our video to experience John's Story from the Blue and to learn about the amazing educational collaboration his class has fostered.
Since 2002, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary has received more than 100 confirmed reports of entangled humpback whales, representing at least 70 animals. So how do experts at the sanctuary disentangle these enormous animals? Very carefully, and without getting in the water. Learn more here.
Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary superintendent Carol Bernthal first visited the Washington coast as a teenager. "I just remember walking out onto this point and looking out at the ocean and being overwhelmed by the power and the history of this place," she says. That moment inspired her, and today, Carol dedicates herself to protecting this amazing national marine sanctuary. Watch our video to experience her Story from the Blue. What special ocean places have inspired you?
Dive into Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary and experience the underwater treasures of this amazing marine protected area!
How can archaeologists chart a World War II battlefield resting 700 feet down on the bottom of the Atlantic Ocean? Maritime archaeologists from Monitor National Marine Sanctuary recently teamed up with the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, Project Baseline, the Bureau of Ocean Energy Management, the UNC Coastal Studies Institute and SRI International to use manned submersibles to survey shipwrecks from a World War II battlefield off the coast of North Carolina. Check out what they found in our video!
Prognathodes basabei is a newly-described species of butterflyfish found in the deep reefs of Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument in the Northwestern Hawaiian Islands. Check out our video to catch a glimpse of this new fish! Learn more here.
What's a sea nettle? Learn about these Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary dwellers in our video!
In February and March of 2016, NOAA and partners conducted an expedition to explore deep waters in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Using the high-definition camera's on NOAA's Deep Discoverer remotely operated vehicle, scientists captured imagery of deep-sea biology and geology at depths ranging from 2,130 feet to 2.7 miles (650 - 4,300 meters) that had never been seen before.
On August 26, 2016, President Obama expanded the monument by 442,781 square miles, bringing the total protected area to 582,578 square miles and making it the world's largest marine protected area. Portions of the video originally filmed outside of Monument boundaries are now protected.
This expedition is part of a three-year effort to gain basic knowledge about the largely unknown marine protected areas in the Pacific. The combined information gained during this effort will help managers to better understand, and therefore protect, these special places.
Video courtesy of NOAA; produced by the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration.
How do national marine sanctuaries protect maritime heritage resources like historic shipwrecks? Find out in this week's Earth Is Blue video. Thanks to NOAA Ocean Today for sharing it with us!
"Science is our measuring stick to figure out if our legends are true," explains Hanohano Na'ehu of Hui o Kuapā - Keawanui Fishpond in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. And by collaborating with scientists, Hanohano is confirming the stories that native Hawaiians have used for generations to guide how they care for nature and interact with the environment. Watch our video to hear Hanohano's Stories from the Blue!
Have you gotten into your sanctuary this summer? In June, in honor of our national Get Into Your Sanctuary celebration, nine Blue Star certified dive charter operators led underwater clean-ups throughout Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Together, the shops collected hundreds of pounds of marine debris! Many thanks to Rainbow Reef Dive Center for sharing their video of their cleanup efforts with us -- and for their dedication to keeping the Florida Keys healthy! (Videography & editing: Logan Campbell)
The wreck of the historic USS Monitor rests 240 feet beneath the surface of the Atlantic Ocean in Monitor National Marine Sanctuary -- so visiting it isn't exactly easy. Fortunately, there are many places that offer the opportunity to discover the wonders of this great ship without getting your feet wet! Check out the USS Monitor Center, located at The Mariners' Museum and Park in Newport News, Virginia, in our video.
Safe haven for marine animals, or perfect place to catch a wave? Both! National marine sanctuaries like Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary protect hundreds of marine species -- and they're also perfect spots for responsible recreation. For Joe Green, ukulele craftsman and owner of Surf n Sea in O'ahu, the sanctuary protects important surf spots. Check out our video to learn more!
National marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments are the heart of many human communities, from native communities that have depended on the ocean for centuries and continue to do so, to vacationers who dive into sanctuary waters and surf their waves, to scientists and researchers who explore the ocean's depths. Join us each month as we tell stories from the blue celebrating the people at the center of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments: sanctuaries.noaa.gov/stories. This month, we tell the story of Nathaniel Linville, owner of The Angling Company in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary!
Many national marine sanctuaries are far offshore, but onshore exhibits around the country make it possible to get to know these special places without getting wet! Check out our video to learn about the partnership between Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary and the Oakland Museum of California. Will you be visiting one of these exhibits soon?
Big news: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has proposed an expansion of its boundaries! Learn more about the proposed expansion in our video and find out how to comment on the proposal at flowergarden.noaa.gov/management/expansiondeis.htm