Earth Is

Annual Magazine of the National Marine Sanctuaries

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Two divers swim above metal debris on the seafloor

Our Blue Heritage

From the iconic Civil War-era ironclad warship USS Monitor to the commercial vessels of the Great Lakes, your National Marine Sanctuary System works diligently to protect our nation’s maritime heritage. With a new national marine sanctuary protecting the Ghost Fleet of Mallows Bay and expeditions to historic shipwrecks, we’re finding new ways to tell the stories of the people of our ocean, our Great Lakes, and Our Blue Heritage.

A diver swims above corals

Get into the Blue

Your national marine sanctuaries are ready and waiting for your next adventure. In these iconic places, you can paddle, dive, and more. National marine sanctuaries provide doorways to new experiences and pathways to discover our nation’s cultural diversity. They’re open to everyone, so what are you waiting for: Get into the Blue!

A map of the National Marine Sanctuary System

Treasures of the Blue

How much does a blue whale weigh? How did the shearwater get its name? Is a strawberry anemone as delicious as it sounds? Just how common are common murres? Take a tour of the Treasures of the Blue to find answers to these questions and more.

An aerial shot of kayaker floating next to a shipwreck

Ushering in a New Era of National Marine Sanctuaries

For nearly 20 years, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron has been the youngest national marine sanctuary in the United States. In 2019, that changed, as NOAA designated the first new national marine sanctuary in two decades: Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary.

A drawing of a whale carcass being eaten by various sea creatures

Whale Fall

When a whale dies at sea, its body often sinks to the seafloor. There, its carcass becomes what is known as a whale fall. The whale’s body provides a sudden, concentrated food source — a bonanza for organisms in the deep sea for years to come.

Small fish swarm around corals

Life in the Blue

Our ocean is in constant flux. The National Marine Sanctuary System works to help sensitive habitats respond to human-made threats like climate change and pollution, and safeguards habitats you’ll find in surprising places. It’s all part of protecting Life in the Blue.

Two people lean off a red reft to tag a fish

Explore the Blue

Each day, researchers in the National Marine Sanctuary System work diligently to uncover new information about our ocean and Great Lakes. They track enormous sharks and disentangle whales. They collaborate to protect coral reefs that are being loved to death. They use new technology to investigate some of the deepest areas of the ocean, and more. Jump in with them and Explore the Blue.

Two divers take a selfie

The Blue and You

Who's the key to protecting the ocean and Great Lakes? You are! Volunteers, visitors, and partners make the National Marine Sanctuary System a success. You help us improve access to these special ocean and Great Lakes places, remove debris and keep the ocean healthy, and more. Plus, through virtual reality we're bringing national marine sanctuaries to more people than ever before. It's all part of The Blue and You.