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How did you celebrate Get Into Your Sanctuary days?

July 2016

What are some of the best places in the nation to experience the wonder of the ocean and Great Lakes? National marine sanctuaries!

This June, the National Marine Sanctuary System celebrated its second annual national Get Into Your Sanctuary days. Check out some of the highlights and get some ideas for your next sanctuary excursion!

In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, visitors explored the sanctuary's visitor center and enjoyed glass bottom boat tours, getting a close-up look at Lake Huron's historic shipwreck. In honor of the Every Kid in a Park initiative, Alpena Shipwreck Tours offered free glass-bottom boat tours to children aboard the Lady Michigan during the month of June!

On the grounds of the Boston Harbor Islands National and State Park visitor center, Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary invited Bostonians to experience Salt, the sanctuary's inflatable, life-sized humpback whale.

kids playing with salt, the inflatable life-sized humpback whale
kids playing with salt, the inflatable life-sized humpback whale
kid holding a whale hat that she colored in

Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument may be closed to the public, but the monument's Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo isn't! The monument held an event at the discovery center complete with virtual dives in national marine sanctuaries.

kid exploring the sanctuary virtually wearing a vr headset
kid exploring the sanctuary virtually wearing a vr headset

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary's Get Into Your Sanctuary celebrations kicked off with a screening of the film Discover the Olympic Coast. The sanctuary also held an educational film viewing and kids' activity at the Port Angeles Library, a youth nature photography workshop in Neah Bay tidepools, and a nature photography workshop at Ruby Beach.

kids at a white board with image of the Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary

National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa celebrated Get Into Your Sanctuary with eco-tour excursions to Fogama'a sanctuary area. More than 200 visitors hiked, swam, snorkeled, and learned about Samoan weaving using coconut fronds!

students weaving baskets
students in the water near shore
students hiking down a path near shore

Get Into your Sanctuary weekend also marked the 10th anniversary of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary's Coastal Discovery Center at San Simeon Cove. At the Coastal Discovery Center, visitors viewed wildlife, kayaked in San Simeon Bay, and more. The sanctuary also celebrated Get Into Your Sanctuary at the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz.

sanctuary volunteer working with sanctuary visitors
kayakers out in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary
view of the sanctuary visitor center in santa cruz

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary teamed up with the National Park Service to teach visitors to the Cape Hatteras Light Station in Buxton, North Carolina about the USS Monitor, the sanctuary, and the National Marine Sanctuary System.

welcome stand setup outside the Cape Hatteras Light Station in Buxton, North Carolina

In Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, visitors to the sanctuary's Kīhei campus in Maui snorkeled the ancient Koʻieʻie Hawaiian Fishpond with maritime archaeologist Hans Van Tilburg, toured the visitor center, and joined in on the dedication of the site's first two Team OCEAN Hawaiʻi kayaks.

a family prepares to go snorkling
kayakers and a paddleboarder out at sea
kayakers walking their kayak to the water

"I never knew gulls were so interesting!" exclaimed a participant in Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary's Seabirds of Alcatraz excursion. The sanctuary also led a public Beach Watch survey where participants became citizen scientists for the day, and Crab Workshops where families caught, examined, and released live crabs.

sanctuary volunteer giving a presentation to kids
seabird and chicks feeding on a fish
sanctury vistors with binoculars getting ready to visit the sanctuary

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary unveiled brand new boat ramp signs in five of Georgia's six coastal counties! The sanctuary also worked with local dive charter companies to encourage divers to get out and see Gray's Reef first hand.

visitors at the boat ramp sign at linding horbor marina

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary celebrated at  Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, Texas. Visitors were treated to a fish scavenger hunt through the aquarium to locate species also found in the sanctuary, scuba gear demonstrations provided by local dive clubs, ocean conservation messages about marine debris and the need to reduce plastics, the Reef on the Road traveling exhibit about the sanctuary currently residing at the aquarium, and presentations about sanctuary expansion.

volunteers assiting kid with putting on dive gear
kid posing with dive gear on
kid posing with dive gear on

In honor of Get Into Your Sanctuary, nine Blue Star certified charter operators in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary offered discounted dive rates for divers who elected to take part in underwater cleanups. Together, the divers collected hundreds of pounds of debris!

kayakers cleaning up marine debris from the water
volunteers posing infront of the marine debris they collected

Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary hosted a community campfire program at Doran Beach in Sonoma County Regional Park to teach visitors more about this offshore sanctuary.

And in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps helped teach visitors about the sanctuary and encourage the public to visit!

mural of channel islands

It wasn't just established sanctuaries that got in on the festivities! The proposed Wisconsin-Lake Michigan site offered activities throughout the Wisconsin coast. The city of Two Rivers entered a Get Into Your Sanctuary-themed truck in the Cool City Classic Car Cruise, while Spaceport Sheboygan held a grand opening of its newly installed Science on a Sphere, complete with a presentation about Great Lakes shipwrecks.

vistor infront of shipwreck
noaa science on a sphere
Thanks to everyone who joined us for Get Into Your Sanctuary. Remember -- you can visit sanctuaries any time!