Underwater Nurseries

Swim through a kelp forest, over a seagrass bed, among mangroves, or along a reef, and you'll find all sorts of tiny creatures. These areas act as nurseries, providing safe harbor for young animals. By protecting the areas where fish, sea turtles, invertebrates, and more begin their lives, national marine sanctuaries ensure the continued vitality of ecosystems within and beyond sanctuaries.

Baby green sea turtles swimming

Baby green sea turtles, or honu in Hawaiian, swim through the waves in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Photo: Koa Matsuoka

orca near the surface of the water

Orcas, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: Douglas Croft

Laysan albatross with chick

Laysan albatross, Papahānaumokuākea MNM. Photo: Naomi Blinick/USFWS

Blue angelfish

Blue angelfish, Gray's Reef NMS. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

green heron on a branch

Green heron, Florida Keys NMS. Photo: Matt McIntosh/NOAA

northern elephant seal resting on another seal

Northern elephant seal, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: Douglas Croft

Humpback whale and calf

Humpback whales, Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale NMS. Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240

Kelp bass

Kelp bass, Channel Islands NMS. Photo: Stuart Halewood

vampire squid

Vampire squid, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: NOAA/MBARI


Squid, Greater Farallones NMS. Photo: NOAA/PointBlue/ACCESS

rockfish swimming on a reef

Rockfish, Channel Islands NMS. Photo: Stuart Halewood

Goldentail moray eel poking head out from its hiding place

Goldentail moray eel, Flower Garden Banks NMS. Photo: Steve Miller

juvenile cubbyu

Cubbyu, Gray's Reef NMS. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

laysan duck chicks

Laysan ducks, Papahānaumokuākea. Photo: Naomi Worcester/Hawai'i DLNR

juvenile cocoa damselfish

Cocoa damselfish, Gray's Reef NMS. Photo: Greg McFall/NOAA

juvenile giant pacific octopus blending into its surroundings

Giant Pacific octopus, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: Taylor Eddy

close up view of lobster eggs

Lobster eggs, Stellwagen Bank NMS. Photo: NOAA

Pinto abalone

Pinto abalone, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: Steve Lonhart/NOAA

juvenile wolf eel

Wolf eel, Monterey Bay NMS. Photo: Michelle Manson

North Atlantic right whale and calf swimming

North Atlantic right whale, Gray's Reef NMS. Photo: Georgia DNR

Hawaiian monk seal resting on the beach

Hawaiian monk seal, Papahānaumokuākea MNM. Photo: Mark Sullivan/NOAA