Live Interactions

Join NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries as we connect you to the network of underwater parks encompassing over 600,000 square miles of pristine marine ecosystems. National marine sanctuaries span from the warm waters of the Florida Keys to the cool waters off the Washington coast and from the kelp forests off California to the freshwater of the Great Lakes. These places hold significant value for conservation, recreation, ecology, and culture, as well as aesthetic beauty. These treasured places are preserved for generations through efforts in research, monitoring, management, resource protection, and education.

Live events, tailored for students and run through Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants, will connect viewers with national marine sanctuary experts in research, education, and exploration in real time. Through the following programs, you will be able to learn about national marine sanctuaries and ask questions to leading experts in their field. Below you will find program times and a brief overview of each lesson topic.

To learn more about safely viewing marine mammals and other protected species in the wild, please visit NOAA Fisheries Office of Protected Resources' Marine Life Viewing Guidelines.

Past Interactions

Watch Recordings of our Past Interactions

barracuda swims through a reefs
Barracuda swims through the reefs of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: David Ruck/NOAA

Corals, shipwrecks, and dolphins, oh my! Diving into Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

August 21st, 2020

Join Blue Star Diving operators Key Dives and Fury Water Adventures while they swap sea stories of their favorite moments beneath the waves of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

During this live interaction, you will learn about the wonders that are protected within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, how you can become an underwater explorer, and what you can do to help protect this special place. Hear from Florida Keys dive experts on their experiences inside the sanctuaries stunning reefs. Join us for this live interaction to learn more!


A stand-up paddleboarder floats over a shipwreck
A stand-up paddleboarder floats over the shipwreck of the steamer Albany in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Bryan Dort

Paddling Shipwrecks: Adventures in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

July 27th, 2020

Join Lesslee Dort, paddleboarder in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, and Stephanie Gandulla, research coordinator at Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, for a discussion about recreating in a national marine sanctuary and what it is like to explore shipwrecks both above and below the water!

During this live interaction, you will hear about the various ways you can visit shipwrecks and learn about Thunder Bay's rich maritime history. You will see stunning imagery of what it looks like to paddleboard over shipwrecks and hear from an avid paddleboarder and research coordinator about the value of recreation in these special places. Ever wonder what it's like to stand on top of a piece of maritime history? Join us for this live interaction to learn more!


Three divers posing behind a sign underwater.
Divers pose near the Lugano shipwreck at Biscayne National Park's Maritime Heritage Trail. Photo: David Riera

Cross-Country Voyage through Public Waters to National Marine Sanctuaries with Hispanic Access Foundation

July 22, 2020

Celebrate Latino Conservation Week and take a trip through time and across the country with Hispanic Access Foundation, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, and Exploring by the Seat of Your Pants.

In every region of the U.S. and on every coast, we find a piece of Latino history. Join Hispanic Access Foundation as they tell stories of shipwrecks, conflicts, and exploration from marine parks across the country. You will learn about our shared history and what the parks mean to us today. You'll also learn about Latino Conservation Week and the fun events you can get involved in, and how you can enjoy everything the outdoors has to offer from your home.


a diver swims through an underwater cave
Jill Heinerth suited up in dive gear, exploring underwater cave systems.

Jill Heinerth: Cave Diving in Channel Island National Marine Sanctuary

July 15, 2020

Join Jill Heinerth, one of the world’s premiere underwater explorers, as she recounts her experiences cave diving in national marine sanctuaries. During this live interaction, you will hear from Jill about her diving in caves in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, what it takes to become a cave diver, and what it is like to explore the “veins of Mother Earth.” Learn more about Jill before the live interaction by watching her featured in Stories from the Blue.


a breaching killer whale
Southern Resident killer whale breaches. Photo: Candice Emmons

Killer Whale Tales in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

July 10, 2020

Join Jeff Hogan, founder of Killer Whale Tales, and national marine sanctuary staff for an interactive virtual experience learning all about Southern Resident killer whales and Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary.

During this live interaction game, students will play the role of scientist who collects and analyzes fish scales left over from predation events from Southern Resident killer whales. Using data collected by the researchers at Northwest Fisheries Science Center, participants will be able to chart and record not only the types of fish the whales are eating, but when they are eating them and where those fish are spawning from! Following the activity, there will be a discussion on the necessity of protecting the spawning streams of the regions salmon. This live program involves viewer interaction, so grab a pen and paper and become a whale researcher!


Snorkeler with 360 camera filming a green sea turtle.
Office of National Marine Sanctuaries videographer, Nick Zachar, films a green sea turtle in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

Explore the Blue with Sanctuaries 360°

June 10, 2020

On World Oceans Day, NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries launched Sanctuaries 360°, a collection of immersive underwater experiences to bring these exceptional places to viewers all over the world.

Join Hannah MacDonald and Nick Zachar from NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries as they bring you on a virtual tour of our underwater parks with Sanctuaries 360°. This live interaction will connect you with information on what national marine sanctuaries are and bring you below the surface to virtually interact with the sea life that call sanctuaries home. Not only will you get to experience a virtual dive in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, but you will also hear about how the film team captures and creates such immersive experiences.

National marine sanctuaries span from the warm waters of the Florida Keys to the cool waters off the Washington coast and from the kelp forests off California to the freshwater of the Great Lakes. These places hold special value for conservation, recreation, ecology, and culture, as well as just the aesthetic beauty. Experience and learn more about these special places through this live interaction.


unbranched wire corals and a sea fan
The unbranched wire corals in this photo are Stichopathes lutkeni and the sea fan is Plumapathes pennacea. Although they look very different, both of these species are black corals. These colonies were found just over 200 feet beneath the surface,  on Bouma Bank. Photo: NOAA/University of North Carolina Wilmington - Undersea Vehicles Program

Exploring for Black Corals in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

June 5, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary with expedition lead Dr. Mercer R. Brugler, from New York City College of Technology (CUNY) and the American Museum of Natural History. 

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Aboard the research vessel Manta, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration staff, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary researchers, and partner scientists ventured about 100 miles offshore of Galveston, Texas to investigate the biology and ecology of black coral colonies. Join us to learn about the highlights from this expedition as lead scientist  Dr. Mercer R. Brugler recounts their exploration.


a giant barrel sponge and a species of star coral
Two marine species targeted by Dr. Josh, and his team - a giant barrel sponge (XETospongia muta), and a species of star coral (Montastraea cavernosa). Photo: GFOE/NOAA

Exploring for Coral Reef Biodiversity and Connectivity in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

June 3, 2020

Take a virtual field trip to the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico with expedition lead Dr. Joshua Voss, from Florida Atlantic University's Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute. 

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Aboard the R/V Manta, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration staff, Flower Garden Bank National Marine Sanctuary researchers, and partner explorers ventured into the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. There, they explored areas that have been proposed for sanctuary expansion and investigated the biodiversity and connectivity of mesophotic coral ecosystems. Join us to learn about the highlights from this expedition as lead scientist Dr. Joshua Voss recounts their exploration.


Reef-building corals spawn in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary every August.
Reef-building corals spawn in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary every August. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA

Exploring Coral Spawning in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

June 2, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary with expedition lead Dr. Sarah Davies of Boston University.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Aboard the research vessel Manta, Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration staff, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary researchers, and partner scientists ventured about 100 miles offshore of Galveston, Texas. There, they observed annual coral reproduction, known as spawning, on the deep reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Join us to learn about the highlights as lead scientist Dr. Sarah Davies recounts the expedition.


A Solitary Hydroid
A Solitary Hydroid, relative of the jellyfish, is found in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: OET/ONMS

Exploring Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuaries

May 27, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries with sanctuary explorer Jenny Stock.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Ocean Exploration Trust to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Aboard the E/V Nautilus, Ocean Exploration Trust and national marine sanctuary staff visited two distinct national marine sanctuaries off the coast of California: Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones. Explorers used remotely operated vehicles to venture into deep canyon and slope habitats to investigate deep-sea sponge and coral habitats. Join us to learn about the highlights from this expedition as Jenny Stock recounts the team's findings.


diver swimming over a shipwreck
A diver examines the three-masted schooner, Lucinda Van Valkenburg, in under 60 feet of water in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: David J. Ruck/NOAA

Diving into Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

May 4, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in northwestern Lake Huron with research coordinator Stephanie Gandulla.

Lake Huron's Thunder Bay has claimed over 200 vessels, and pristinely preserved shipwrecks make Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary a significant site for maritime and cultural heritage. Join us to learn what it takes to discover shipwrecks, ongoing research efforts, iconic shipwreck stories, and the mysteries awaiting discovery in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary.


submerged whale skeleton covered in octopuses
A whale skeleton submerged in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, covered in octopuses. Photo: OET/NOAA

Exploring the Depths of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary

May 7, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary with research specialist Chad King.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Ocean Exploration Trust to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Aboard the E/V Nautilus, Ocean Exploration Trust and Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary explorers used a remotely operated vehicle to venture 10,000 feet under the sea to investigate an octopus garden, characterize deep sea corals and sponges, and visit unexplored regions of the sanctuary. Join us to learn about the highlights from this expedition as the project's lead scientist, Chad King, recounts the team's findings.


fish swimming by a reef with soundwave coming from the fish
Fish like this black sea bass make quite a bit of noise to communicate. Scientists from Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary are using this noise to learn more about life on the reef. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

Exploring the sounds of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

May 8th

The ocean is loud! Animals of all sizes make noise to communicate with their own species, and scientists are using underwater microphones to tune in. Kris Howard and Alison Soss study the sounds of fishes to better understand what is happening at Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary. Also, learn what it's like to be a marine scientist living on NOAA's marine research ship, Nancy Foster, with no land in sight, spending three hours per day scuba diving.


ship towing a asv out to the open water
R/V Storm tows ASV BEN out to open water to conduct mapping operations in Lake Huron along busy shipping lanes, which host many shipwrecks offshore of Rogers City, Michigan. Photo: David Cummins/ Alpena Community College

Exploring the Lakebed in Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary

May 12, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary with research coordinator Stephanie Gandulla.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Ocean Exploration Trust and the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory to expand our understanding of sanctuaries through deep-water exploration and research. Using an autonomous surface vehicle and the research vessel Storm, Ocean Exploration Trust and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary explorers mapped unexplored areas of the sanctuary with the goal of discovering new shipwrecks. Join us to learn about the highlights as the project's lead scientist, Stephanie Gandulla, recounts the expedition.


wreck of the portland covered with frilled anemones
Marine invertebrates, like these colorful anemones, settle and grow on hard surfaces like shipwrecks and rocky reefs. Photo: WHOI/NOAA

Exploring the Depths of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary

May 15, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary with expedition lead scientists, Dr. Kirstin Meyer-Kaiser and Dr. Calvin Mires.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Marine Imaging Technologies to explore marine life and shipwrecks in the depths of Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Aboard the R/V Connecticut, Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution and Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary explorers used a variety of innovative marine technologies to conduct archaeological and biological surveys of the region's most iconic shipwrecks. Join us to learn about the highlights as lead scientists recount the expedition by showing stunning photos, videos, and three-dimensional models.


group of dolphins swimming
Group of dolphins swim in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: Claire Fackler/NOAA

National Marine Sanctuaries with Pacific Mammal Research: Marine Mammals in Special Marine Places

May 18, 2020

Join NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries educator Hannah MacDonald as she takes you on a virtual field trip throughout national marine sanctuaries to discover marine mammals. Hannah is joined by Pacific Mammal Research scientist and research director Dr. Cindy Elliser. Dr. Elliser will highlight the unique discoveries about marine mammal behaviors that Pacific Mammal Research has made and how their discoveries connect with our national marine sanctuaries.

In this live lesson you will learn about the network of underwater parks encompassing over 600,000 square miles of special marine ecosystems. National marine sanctuaries span from the warm waters of the Florida Keys to the cool waters off the Washington coast and from the kelp forests off California to the freshwater of the Great Lakes. These places hold special value for conservation, recreation, ecology, and culture, as well as aesthetic beauty. Efforts in research, monitoring, resource protection, education, and management of these treasures preserve them for future generations. This program will highlight the marine mammals of national marine sanctuaries and educate participants about their characteristics and ongoing research.


venus fly trap sea anemone
This venus fly trap sea anemone was found exploring the depths of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa. Photo: OET/NOAA

Exploring the Depths of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa

May 20, 2020

Take a virtual field trip into the depths of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa with research team members Valerie Brown and Hanae Spathias.

In 2019, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries partnered with Ocean Exploration Trust and National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa to explore deep-sea communities and an active underwater volcano. Sanctuary scientists will discuss the diverse marine zones found in American Samoa, from the stunning shallow reefs to the mysterious depths of the ocean. The researchers will take viewers on a guided exploration of these zones using photos and videos from the expedition. Join us to learn more about the exploration, interact with the team, and find out what they discovered!