2023 Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest

May 26, 2023 through September 4, 2023


double rainbow over the ocean

Join us and celebrate #PrideInTheOcean

During the month of June, the National Marine Sanctuary System will be celebrating Ocean Month and LGBT Pride Month through our #PrideInTheOcean campaign. Our goal is to raise the visibility of LGBTQ+ ocean scientists, athletes, appreciators, and more. Our ocean is for everyone, no matter who you love, and we want to know how you take pride in this blue planet.

In partnership with Pride Outside, we're asking you to post an image of yourself in, on, or by the ocean with a caption explaining why and how you take pride in the ocean! We are especially looking to center voices from the LGBTQ+ community and welcome submissions from allies promoting inclusivity in ocean spaces and the outdoors.

How to participate

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Submit your photo
Take a photo of yourself in, on, or by the ocean – bonus points if you're holding a sign that says #PrideInTheOcean. Email it to earthisblue@noaa.gov with a caption explaining why you take pride in the ocean. Please also include your pronouns. Photos and captions will be shared on the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Pride Outside social media and this webpage.

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Share your photo on social media
During June, share your photo and caption on Instagram and Twitter with the hashtag #PrideInTheOcean. Tag NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (Instagram/Twitter) and Pride Outside (Instagram/Twitter).

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Encourage others to show their pride
Help us spread the word and ask your friends and family to get involved and post their own photos to social media with #PrideInTheOcean.

Campaign Terms and Conditions

  1. By submitting a photo, you agree to all terms and conditions for the #PrideInTheOcean campaign.
  2. We will assume that, in submitting a photo, you are the owner of the photo and have the right to publish it (including permission/model release for anyone identifiably pictured).
  3. By submitting a photo, you are giving NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Pride Outside permission to use the photo for purposes detailed on this page, such as on our respective websites and on social media. We will provide credit to photographers whenever we use any of the photos. These photos are not for sale and are not for commercial use unless prior permission is arranged.
  4. Follow all social distancing guidelines and closures recommended by the CDC and your state and local guidance.
  5. Photos should be a minimum of 1200 pixels wide (but the bigger, the better!).


Example post

A person sits on a rock in front of the water smiling.
"My name is Shannon, and I have #PrideInTheOcean. I work to educate people all over the world about the National Marine Sanctuary System. #PrideInTheOcean is about boosting LGBTQ+ representation and inclusion in the outdoors, and as a queer person, it is important to me that folks feel welcome in these special places."
- Shannon Shikles (she/her)

(Photo description: A person sits on a rock in front of the water smiling.)


pride in the ocean flyer
Click to download a larger PDF version.


A SCUBA diver floats over a small school of fish.
Nova West, Filmmaker and Photographer (they/them)
"Hi! My name is Nova West and I am a wildlife filmmaker and photographer specializing in underwater documentaries. In addition to collaborating with organizations such as National Geographic, Netflix, and Discovery, I also spend a lot of time at sea aboard the E/V Nautilus as a Video Engineer and Expedition Documentarian through Ocean Exploration Trust. Growing up landlocked in the midwest, I've always had an instinctual curiosity for the ocean; although hundreds of miles away, it somehow felt like home. The ocean is a place where I feel most free and able to be my authentic self. As a trans and nonbinary diver I take #PrideInTheOcean."
A person stands in front of the turret in the Mariner's Museum.
Mark Losavio, Media/Outreach Coordinator at Monitor National Marine Sanctuary (he/him)
"I believe that anybody can be a scientist and anybody can find something amazing outside! I think the science we do can be enhanced by accepting and appreciating new and different voices."
A person standing in front of the ocean holding a pride flag with a sign that reads '# Pride In The Ocean.'
Kenneth Walker, Program Analyst NOAA's Office for Coastal Management (he/him)
"I'm Kenneth Walker (he/him) and I have #Pride In The Ocean. As a gay city planner with the National Ocean Service Office for Coastal Management in Silver Spring, MD, I enjoy helping our state and local partners enhance community resilience via tools and training on NOAA's Digital Coast. As Chair of NOAA Pride, NOAA's LGBTQ+ Employee Resource Group, I lead NOAA's efforts to increase recruitment, advancement and retention of the LGBTQ+ community."
SCUBA divers on a boat pose with diving equipment
Undersea Expeditions (@GaySCUBA)
"Women Divers of @GayScuba take #PrideInTheOcean and look forward to returning to Curaçao in February on an LGBTQ+ scuba adventure!"
SCUBA divers on a boat pose with a Pride Flag and diving equipment
Undersea Expeditions (@GaySCUBA)
"Divers @GayScuba carry #PrideInTheOcean forward all year long! Exploring the wonders of the sea is our passion and we are out and proud."
A person smiling on the beach holding a surfboard
Ginger Wireman (she/her)
"Grew up sailing now trying surfing. Happy to see the beautiful diversity at Westport, WA when I took my first surf lesson! I take #PrideInTheOcean and hope everyone feels safe and included at our beaches."
A person smiling on the beach in a yellow striped shirt.
Eric Carstens, Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs (he/him)
"My name is Eric Carstens and I am the Program Manager at Bow Seat Ocean Awareness Programs. I have so much #PrideInTheOcean because it has fed my curiosity for the natural world since I was young. There's always something new to discover! At Bow Seat, we foster ocean awareness and education through the process of creation, whether that's visual art, poetry, creative writing, film, dance or music. As a queer science communicator, I am thrilled to help build these new paths for young people around the world to celebrate the ocean on their own, creative terms."
A diver observing a Slipper Lobster in Maui, Hawaii.
Larry Chow (he/him)
"Ralph and I have been SCUBA diving for more than 20 years. We enjoy the peacefulness of being under water and enjoy seeing animals in their natural habitat. We have participated in ocean cleanups, beach cleanups and support various ocean conservation groups."
A diver documenting Mobula Birostris in Ecuador.
Ralph Wolf (he/him)
"Larry and I have been SCUBA diving for more than 20 years. We enjoy the peacefulness of being under water and enjoy seeing animals in their natural habitat. We have participated in ocean cleanups, beach cleanups and support various ocean conservation groups."
Nine people in masks stand together holding a Pride flag.
Patagonia Seattle Team
"Our team takes #PrideInTheOcean by advocating for the protection of our local waters and continuing the maritime history of our region. We believe the Puget Sound/Salish Sea needs to be accessible to all and we want to use our platform to educate and support our local nonprofit partners."
A SCUBA diver in the water
Robyn Walters, Program Assistant Volunteer Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary (she/her)
"Aloha mai. I'm Dr. Robyn Walters, an 84 year old transgender volunteer (she/her) with the Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and 2014 National Volunteer of the Year. Working with a diverse group of talented staff and volunteers, I am happiest when sharing with the public both science-based knowledge about our sea life and NOAA's involvement in protecting our ocean home for future generations."
Two divers watch a sea turtle nestled in a reef structure.
Jacqueline Savitz, Chief policy officer at Oceana
"I'm Jackie Savitz, chief policy officer at Oceana. There's nothing more welcoming and inclusive than our oceans. Let's celebrate #PrideInTheOcean by getting immersed in the ocean and savoring all the wonderful gifts it offers us!"
Two people in large coats stand infront of icy rocks
Sim Aberson, Hurricane researcher for NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (he/him/his) and Mike Jankulak, IT specialist for NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory (he/him/his)
"We're Sim Aberson and Mike Jankulak, and we have #PrideInTheOcean. Sim (he/him/his) is a hurricane researcher for NOAA's Atlantic Oceanographic and Meteorological Laboratory, and Mike (he/him/his) is an IT specialist at the lab, working in a group dedicated to research and monitoring the health of coral reefs. We both study the ocean to help improve the health of these beautiful ecosystems and to improve forecasts for those of us on land. Though we live in a the subtropics we love visiting oceans all over the world, like the southern Ocean seen here from Elephant Island, Antarctica."
person smiling by water with a sign that reads #PrideInTheOcean
James Roubal, Washington CoastSavers & Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (he/him)
"I'm James Roubal (he/him) and everyday I take #PrideInTheOcean. As a gay conservationist working for the Olympic Coast chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Washington CoastSavers, it is critical to show our diverse volunteer base they belong in these outdoor spaces. Queer representation matters. As our volunteers clean Washington's rugged beaches, I want them to feel safe, accepted, and welcomed. In order to heal the planet, we must have Queer, Black, and Indingenous liberation."
Person smiling on a boat
Corey Williams (she/her)
"My name is Corey Williams. I take pride in the ocean because it has always been a place where I feel simultaneously calm and exhilarated. Being on the water always reminds me that I am part of something so much larger than myself; a vast and diverse ecosystem that continues to be so essential to humanity's existence, regardless of who you are."
Diver in the ocean with arms spread out
Emma Doherty (she/her)
"As a New England native, there is nothing that feels more like home to me than being near the ocean. The sight, sound, and smell provides me with a sense of calmness and belonging. I have recently discovered that my love for the ocean goes even deeper. Scuba diving has opened my eyes to the magic and fragility of underwater ecosystems. I look forward to becoming a more experienced diver and advocate for this vital part of our planet."
Person standing on the beach
Annabelle Sweetall (she/her)
"As a summer baby and a Cancer, my fascination with the ocean was cultivated at an early age. Every time I am in or near the water I am reminded of the ocean's vastness, how this blue planet nourishes and connects us. The ocean is magical and supports so much amazing life. From enjoying a recreational day at the beach, to exercising and exploring on kayaks, to participating in protection and clean-up days, I take #PrideInTheOcean by showing her all the love she gives me back."
Person smiling with sunglasses on
Adam Roser (he/him/his)
"I find the ocean as a place where everyone of different backgrounds can come together, while finding peace and happiness. The soothing sounds and beautiful landscapes can give everyone a new outlook on the importance of our environment."
person smiling on a boat
Kate Sutter, Science Communicator (she/her)
"I'm Kate Sutter (she/her) and I take #PrideInTheOcean. I worked on Google Underwater Street View and found new and non-traditional ways to share reefs with those unable to dive themselves. I am just as proud of being part of the queer community and working around people who are as stoked about the ocean as I am."
Person smiling holding a #PrideInTheOcean sign
Luis Ingram-Westover, National Weather Service (he/him)
"My name is Luis Ingram-Westover, and I have #PrideInTheOcean. I'm a gay meteorologist for the National Weather Service at the Key West office and I forecast for the Florida Keys and surrounding coastal waters. Our waters are vital not only for conservation efforts, but for tourism, recreation, and people's livelihoods. When I'm not forecasting, I serve as the Ambassador for the LGBTQ+ and Hispanic Communities with the NWS to provide an inclusive workplace."
Diver underwater
Olivia Coleman (she/her/hers)
"The ocean has given me so much. Through following my deep passion of scuba diving, I have learned to listen to my breath, slow down, and notice all of life's intricacies and beauty. There truly is so much magic in the underwater world and I am endlessly fascinated with it. I take pride in the effort I have put in to give back to this entity that has provided me with so much. When I focus my efforts on coral restoration, I know that I am a part of the whole, and am doing my part to heal the ocean. Huge thank you to NOAA for highlighting our collective experience through #PrideInTheOcean."
two people standing in the ocean
Bernadette Restivo, Fantasy Fest Queen (she/her)
"My name is Bernadette Restivo, current Fantasy Fest Queen. I have always lived by the water. Living on an island surrounded by the beautiful seas always refreshes my mind and renews my soul. Sunrises, sunsets, tides and waves...all from God's gift to us."
a woman in an inflatable boat near mountains
Elizabeth Bradfield, writer and naturalist (she/her)
"Elizabeth Bradfield, at the entrance to LeConte Bay in Southeast Alaska, is about to take a group of people out to explore icebergs calved from the glacier. Sharing information and curiosity about the ocean and all its shores with others is a joy for her, and she hopes that she can inspire others – whoever they are and wherever they come from -- to care for our ocean. Bradfield is a writer and naturalist."
person near the ocean holding a sign that says #PrideInTheOcean
James Roubal, Washington CoastSavers & Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary Foundation (he/him)
"My name is James Roubal, and I have #PrideInTheOcean. As the program coordinator for Washington CoastSavers and the Olympic Coast Chapter of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, I work with thousands of volunteers every year to keep our Washington waters clean of marine debris. As a queer man, it's important I provide a safe and welcoming space for our volunteers, so they feel they can explore these special places. There's a real lack of LGBTQ+ representation in the conservation community and I'm thankful for campaigns like these that help break down barriers."
classic selfie on a beach
Meghan Walter, USDA/Pride in Federal Service (she/her)
"Growing up in the landlocked Midwest, I took the first opportunity to move closer to the ocean. I love being near the water. One of the best parts of my job as a civil engineer in natural resource conservation is contributing to healthy forests and streams, and a clean ocean."
classic selfie on a beach
Robb Krehbiel, Defenders of Wildlife (he/him)
"Friends of mine and I went on a whale watching trip in the San Juans and had a great time. We came across a pod of transient orcas, which are cousins to the endangered Southern Resident orcas. Part of my job with Defenders of Wildlife is to manage our advocacy and program work for Southern Resident Orcas."
man standing in front of a tall ship
Matt Stout, NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (he/him)
"As the communications director for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, I'm working today to make our ocean better tomorrow!"
classic selfie on a beach
Antônio Isabeles, Native American outreach counselor (he/him)
"Ke'aku! Na notoka' Antônio Isabeles. Hello! My name is Antônio Isabeles. As a Tuxpan Coast Nahua/Wixárika tribal member, and my mother being Native Hawaiian/Samoan, my connections to the ocean and my Two-Spirit identity are super important to me. The ocean is where our people were first created and a resource we depended on, quite literally Tatei Háaramara, Our Mother Ocean. As indigenous people from the Pacific Islands and the Americas, protection of our land and waters is essential to our survival and continuation of our spiritual practices. #PrideInTheOcean means a chance to be proud of the ocean my people come from, and proud of holding onto my traditions as a Two Spirit indigenous gay man."
Photo taken on the coast of the Tulalip Tribes Reservation
a person holding a bucket full of marine debris
Nicolas Vanderzyl, Hawai‘i Wildlife Fund (he/him)
"My name is Nicolas Vanderzyl, and I have #PrideInTheOcean. I am a gay marine scientist and environmental educator for a local NGO, Hawaiʻi Wildlife Fund. I am honored by the opportunity to share my passion for the ocean and also raise awareness of LGBTQ+ in STEM. My hope is that I will inspire others to be the change that will preserve the ocean while also making the next generation of scientists feel comfortable however they self-identify."
person in a kayak
Hannah Malvin, Pride Outside and The Wilderness Society (she/her)
"Through my work with Pride Outside, it's been wonderful coming together for hikes, outdoor skills classes, LGBTQ history walking tours, and the LGBTQ Outdoor Summit. I have gotten to know LGBTQ rangers around the world, LGBTQ conservation and outdoor industry professionals, and LGBTQ outdoorists. It's been so meaningful to build friendships and learn about people's experiences and connections to the outdoors. #PrideInTheOcean is about boosting LGBTQ representation and inclusion in the outdoors. Everyone belongs in the outdoors and it can be so affirming to see people like you in the outdoors, we're hoping to spread that message far and wide."
seven people standing together on a beach
Jenny, Candise, Jen, Mary, Marcéo, Aime, Rhiannon, Creature To Creature and Whisper Hiss
"Creature To Creature and Whisper Hiss are queer-centered rock bands and good friends from Portland who share a love of being around natural water. Everybody deserves to feel safe and taken care of at the beach – all bodies, all genders, all sexualities – EVERYONE deserves to walk along the beach without harassment or threat. Both bands create songs from a radically vulnerable place, about feeling safe and at home in our own skin, about connection and emotion. There is no place like the ocean to feel deeply and inspire us. The ocean reminds us of the power of tears and embracing our personal truths. Take care of each other, and remember your deep connection to the water."
a woman in a kayak
Maria Harvey, Center for Coastal Studies (she/her)
"I have spent many years taking #PrideInTheOcean working as an ecotour guide in Alaska and Hawai‘i, and now as a marine mammal disentanglement specialist in Cape Cod. Daily we have an opportunity to teach people about our ocean, the dangers it faces, and encourage future generations of scientists/educators/conservationists. I think being able to show others how I take #lgbtq pride in myself and #pride in the places I guide can be a huge inspiration going forward."
a person with arm and leg outstretched while holding onto a driftwood pole
Julian Kosanovic, professional musician and computer engineering student (they/them)
“My name is Julian Kosanovic (they/them) and I have #PrideInTheOcean. Running barefoot along the shore is my second favorite beach activity. Being a fabulous queer on a fabulous beach is my first.”
people posing together for a photo while on a boat
Lionfish Invitational crew
The June 2019 Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Lionfish Invitational scuba divers had #PrideInTheOcean on board the M/V Fling off the coast of Texas. The divers (straight, gay, deaf, black, and white) came together from Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Louisiana, Washington, California, Hawai‘i, and even Bermuda to remove invasive lionfish from the sanctuary's waters. This mix of talented people took pride in their diversity out on the water while coming together for the common goals of diving, science, and ocean conservation.
a man sitting on a pier in front of the ocean
Ricardo Salazar, NOAA Fisheries (he/him)
"My name is Ricardo Salazar and I am a North Pacific groundfish observer for NOAA Fisheries. The reason I take #PrideintheOcean is because growing up gay and Latino was a difficult experience for me. The ocean was my way of escaping. It became my sanctuary and I vow to protect it with all my heart. I hope to inspire the LGBTQ+ and POC community to study STEM and have a better understanding for the ocean and protect it as well."
a person in a boat
Johann Stiepani, Uppsala University Ph.D. student (they/them)
"My name is Johann Stiepani and I take #PrideInTheOcean. I am a Ph.D. student at Uppsala University at the Gotland Campus in the Department of Natural Resource and Sustainable Development. My thesis working title is Seagrass Ecosystem Services and Sustainable Management in the Indo-Pacific. I work with invertebrate gleaners and fisherfolk in coastal areas of the Indo-Pacific geographic region. I take pride in my unique LGBT+ identity because I believe my identity gives me the edge to understanding and empathy to coastal communities that relay on their natural resource. I strongly encourage young people to keep pushing their way into science and never let anyones opinion about your identity stop you from contributing to science and marine conservation."
people posing together for a photo
Patagonia Seattle staff
"Patagonia Seattle takes #PrideInTheOcean. We work with various local non-profits that advocate and take care of the Salish Sea and the Puget Sound, whether it be a local beach clean up or helping entangled whales, our community is out there taking pride in our oceans. Our team is committed to encouraging our customers to take action in their local community through our activism platform called Patagonia Action Works."
green sea anemones and other tidepool invertebrates
Ranger Megan, Olympic National Park (she/her)
"I have #PrideInTheOcean. My favorite thing about visiting the intertidal is the amazing amount of diversity to be found there, biodiversity that is. It reminds me that every creature plays a role in the health of the ecosystem and that every creature has something important to contribute. Take one out and it changes the delicate balance."
a man and a girl standing in front of the ocean holding a #prideintheocean sign
RDML Tim Gallaudet, Assistant Secretary of Commerce for Ocean and Atmosphere and Deputy NOAA Administrator (he/him)
"My daughter Aspen and our entire family take pride in the ocean for giving energy, water, and life to everyone and everything. We especially take pride in our national marine sanctuaries for protecting, preserving, and promoting America's precious ocean and maritime resources."


#PrideInTheOcean is brought to you by NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and Pride Outside. Want your organization to get involved? Contact mollie.schulman@noaa.gov.

About the project

The National Marine Sanctuary System offers this campaign as part of its continuing Heritage Months project. We celebrate the seven officially recognized Heritage Months with targeted outreach appropriate to each month and offer extensive diversity resources on our Heritage of the Blue site.

Because this nation, and its ocean, are for everyone.

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