Celebrating National Get Into Your Sanctuary Day

By Elizabeth Weinberg

September 2017

This August, we asked you to Get Into Your Sanctuary -- and you did! Check out some of the highlights here and get some ideas for your next sanctuary adventure.

In National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa, visitors explored the Aunu’u sanctuary area in eco-tour excursions provided by Samriel’s Aunu’u Island Getaway Tours, and fished in sanctuary waters through an expedition offered by the TaeBo Defense Friends of the Sanctuary. The opening ceremony honored High Chief Fonoti Simanu, who was presented with the Sanctuary Volunteer of the Year Award.

a boy holding a fishing pole with a fish
high chief fonoti and high talking chief fuiava
a boat steering into harbor

In California, the E/V Nautilus crew was hard at work exploring the deep seas of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary. Through live ship-to-shore events around the country, members of the public got to chat with scientists and crew aboard the ship.

researchers aboard e/v nautilus

The Channel Island Naturalist Corps were on hand in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, educating more than 300 tourists about the region’s diverse ecology on whale watch tours and island hikes. Visitors also got their feet wet kayaking, fishing, and whale watching in the sanctuary, while others chipped in to help remove marine debris from Chinese Harbor on Santa Cruz Island.

sanctuary staff in front of the get into your sanctuary logo
clean-up crew at chinese harbor

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary got digital with a Story Map charting visitors’ adventures. Some sanctuary visitors also contributed to a cleaner ocean through cleanups in Key Largo and at Boca Chica Beach!

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary brought this Gulf of Mexico sanctuary to Moody Gardens Aquarium in Galveston. Virtual reality goggles allowed visitors to "see" the sanctuary up close and personal with 360-degree photos from our Virtual Dive Gallery.

visitors use virtual reality goggles to experience the sanctuary

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary brought the sanctuary on the road with an interactive mobile exhibit at the Islands Library branch of Savannah’s Live Oak Public Library System, complete with virtual dives. Some visitors stuck around for more than an hour taking dive after dive!

a 360 degree view of grays reef national marine sanctuary
visitors use virtual reality goggles to experience the sanctuary

Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary hosted a whole bevy of activities. In Crab Workshops, families caught, examined, and released live crabs. Visitors to the sanctuary’s visitor center competed in Bird Bingo, while others spotted seals from the bluffs with Friends of Fitzgerald Marine Reserve and participated in whale watching and kayaking trips in the sanctuary through local operators.

children examine a small crab
child dangles a string to catch a crab
a child holds two large crabs
kayaks on shore near a bay
a person on the deck of a boat looking for whales

In Hawai‘i, visitors across five islands were treated to a film screening of Humpback Whales by Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Those on the Big Island celebrated the grand opening of the Liquid Galaxy exhibit at Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument’s Mokupāpapa Visitor Center with fun activities for the whole family.

child in front of a fishtank
children at the mokupāpapa visitor center

Monitor National Marine Sanctuary teamed up with The Mariners’ Museum in Newport News, Virginia to help the public learn about the USS Monitor, a Civil War-era ironclad. Other visitors to the museum participated in a live ship-to-shore interaction with scientists aboard the E/V Nautilus in Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Visitors to the Sanctuary Exploration Center in Santa Cruz, California were also treated to a live interaction with scientists aboard Nautilus, while local recreation businesses helped people get out on the waters of nearby Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Members of a local Boys and Girls Club learned about some of the smallest marine life in the sanctuary by conducting plankton tows while on a kayak tour.

kayakers in monterey bay national marine sanctuary

Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary made a splash showcasing tidepools, beach art, games, and even whales at Kalaloch area beaches. After activities throughout the day, a hardy crew plunged into the cold sanctuary surf in a Sanctuary Splash.

visitors swimming in the cold olympic coast water
visitors exploring tidepools

Young artists got acquainted with Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary on a whale watch. Winners of the annual marine art contest sponsored by MA Marine Educators and the sanctuary got to see approximately a dozen humpback whales, several minke whales, and large numbers of shearwaters and other seabirds, with help the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Back on land, Stellwagen Bank staff, volunteers, and NOAA’s Northeast Fisheries Science Center offered tours of Salt, the life-sized inflatable humpback whale at the Woods Hole Science Stroll and the Boston GreenFest.

Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary visitors got a chance to get out on Lake Huron aboard the glass-bottom boat Lady Michigan, while in another Great Lake, nearly 1,000 people toured the Sailing Vessel Denis Sullivan along the shores of the proposed Wisconsin - Lake Michigan sanctuary.

a young girl aboard s/v denis sullivan
s/v denis sullivan

Thanks to everyone who came out for Get Into Your Sanctuary Day! Missed out? Plan your next adventure in a sanctuary near you!

Elizabeth Weinberg is the social media coordinator and editor/writer for NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.