Last weekend we asked you to get into your sanctuary – and you did!

by Elizabeth Weinberg

A common misconception about America’s national marine sanctuaries is that they’re remote, fenced off areas where humans are barred from entering and enjoying themselves.

Not true! In fact, the vast majority of sanctuary waters are open to the public and welcome activities like kayaking, snorkeling and diving, and recreational fishing. This weekend, sanctuaries across the country held events to encourage you to get into your sanctuary – and you did! Here are a few of the highlights.

Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary had a great day whale watching on Sunday with Wendy Motta, District Representative with Congresswoman Lois Capps. Whale watchers saw at least 20 humpback whales, and thousands of common dolphins as well as many feeding seabirds and bait balls of small fish!

whale tail in the ocean

Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries celebrated their recent expansion at the Gualala Arts Center. Click here to learn more about the expansion.

teacher and student at the arts center

At the Aquarium at Moody Gardens, visitors dove into Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (And uh oh – some of them turned into squid while they were there!)

photo of kid dressed as a squid

Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary and
Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument teamed up at Waikiki Aquarium to teach everyone from kids to adults about local fish species and marine debris.

photo of kid dressed as a squid

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary joined forces with Leopold’s Ice Cream in Savannah to bring the ocean to the community!

photo of a group of people standing in front of an ice cream store.

At the Mariners’ Museum, visitors learned about Monitor National Marine Sanctuary and the USS Monitor.

photo of mural at mariners museum

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary volunteers kayaked in the beautiful San Simeon Bay.

photo of a group of of kayakers

Rough weather in National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa cancelled many of the planned Eco-Tours in Aunu’u, but a photobooth and other activities brought the sanctuary – and NFL stars, including retired Steelers player Troy Polumalu! – to the stadium.

photo oftroy polumalu doing a booth activity

From relaxation on the shore to adventure in the waves, Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary brought “Healthy Ocean, Healthy You!” activities to Kalaloch Lodge.

photo person doing yoga on the beach

photo person doing body surfing

Whale watchers in Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary caught a glimpse of Nile, one of the sanctuary’s regularly returning mother humpback whales, and celebrated the naming of a whale watch vessel, now called Sanctuary.

photo of a whale tail in the water

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary saw a visit from the tall ship U.S. Brig Niagara, which was open to the public for tours.

photo a ship on the doc

Thanks to everyone who came out for Get Into Your Sanctuary Weekend. Remember – you can #VisitSanctuaries any time!