NOAA’s National Marine Protected Areas Center: 20 Years of Helping U.S. Marine Protected Areas Navigate a Dynamic Ocean
Twenty years ago, new science was proving the effectiveness of marine protected areas – especially those that fully protect resources by banning fishing – in conserving marine life. Yet at the time, less than one one-thousandth of U.S. marine waters were fully protected. Globally, less than one percent of ocean waters were in any type of MPA. In response, ecologists and conservation organizations began to look for a way to enhance the federal government’s approach to ocean protection.
Immerse yourself in the ocean and your national marine sanctuaries without getting wet!
Our planet is an ocean planet: Earth Is Blue. The National Marine Sanctuary System protects some of the most iconic underwater places throughout the United States, but we can't do it without you. No matter where you are, the ocean and Great Lakes are in your hands. We hope these images inspire you to help care for our ocean and to spread the word that Earth isn't green – it's blue.
Join us on and submit your own photos.
Stories from the Blue
Stories from the Blue celebrate the people at the center of national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments. What does the National Marine Sanctuary System mean to you?
Earth is Blue Magazine
Explore Sanctuaries Live
with real-time video and communication feeds
Sanctuary Nomination Process
NOAA invites communities across the nation to nominate their most treasured places in our marine and Great Lakes waters for consideration as national marine sanctuaries.