Dr. Kathryn Sullivan - Earth Is Blue

As National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) Administrator Dr. Kathryn Sullivan says, "No matter what you see out your living room window or off of your back porch, you are first and foremost a citizen of the planet – and a citizen of an ocean planet." With that in mind, a year ago today we launched #‎EarthIsBlue to bring you incredible images and videos of America's underwater treasures. Watch our video to learn why we've been sharing these images and how you can help us keep this blue planet vibrant!‪


No matter what your zip code. No matter what you see out of your living room window of your back porch, you are first and foremost a citizen of a planet and a citizen of an ocean planet.

It's not a postcard and it's not just a pretty place to get your feet wet. The ocean is your life support system in a very real, direct way.

It's as important for us all to take care of it as it is important for us to take care of our own homes and look after our families. "#‎EarthIsBlue", what better way to say it?

People take care of things that they know are important or that they've fallen in love with.

The first step to engaging folks in fabulous places like the National Marine Sanctuaries is to, you know, is get the word out there.

The United States has 14 sanctuary sites and NOAA is charged with establishing them and running them and stewarding them so that they protect and help conserve all of the critters and great ocean assets that exist within them.

They don't belong to NOAA they belong to all of the citizens of the United States, just like our parks.

The ocean is one of those... one of those places that is the archetype of that combination of power and fragility that struck me when I looked out the window of a space shuttle.

We launched on my first flight from Kennedy Space Center in Florida and eight and a half minute later we were over England and 200 miles above the planet.

When the engines finally cut off I lifted my gaze and looked over the shoulder of the crew member in front of me and saw out this panoramic set of six windows this broad arc of the limb of the earth.

Sullivan on Radio: "We haven't seen that much that hasn't been spectacular from this altitude."

It was all blue and white and it was absolutely stunning and without even thinking about it and totally unable to help myself I blurted out "wow, look at that!"

Sullivan on Radio: "We'll be very proud and very honored that so so many people will get to share..."

You quickly discover we never should have named this planet "Earth", that suggests terrestrial rocks, soil... and most of what you see from orbit is in fact the blue. Or if it's not the blue it's the white that is the water that hasn't yet fallen back into the blue.

This program that we're doing here today, "Earth is Blue", is a product of the sanctuary office wanting to be sure you know those great blue places. Social media gives us a really powerful avenue to do that.

"You should see that view out there!"

"Shark up!"

We really can be nimble and showcase a lot of the different - a lot of the different connection points - in the sanctuaries that people can take advantage of.

One is: they are places of really special national or international significants, from a natural resource or archaeology or cultural history point of view can be hugely powerful connection points.

The second thing is: just setting aside those special places and leaving them in various degrees undisturbed ensures that we have safe zones, if you will, in the ocean where natural resources of the ocean can continue to flourish even as human population grows and the planet changes around it.

It's hugely powerful: we stand on the shore and listen to the roar of the waves.

That's part of the drama and power that draws us and attracts us and impresses us about the ocean.

But it can give us a false sense that is so immense and so powerful that it will always be fine and nothing we could ever do could ever matter.

So the ocean is both hugely powerful and exquisitely life-giving.

We truly do live on a blue planet.

Help draw others to the opportunity, the obligation and the imperative, but also the fun and the real joy of taking care of the ocean.