Established in 1972, the National Marine Sanctuaries program seeks to preserve the beauty, biodiversity, history and economic benefits of some of our most diverse underwater ecosystems. Three years later, the wreckage of sunken Civil War ship USS Monitor became the nation’s first marine sanctuary.
Today, there are 14 designated sanctuaries throughout the U.S. They encompass more than 170,000 square miles of marine protected waters in areas from Washington State to the Florida Keys, and from Lake Huron to American Samoa.
Within those protected waters are kelp forests and colorful reefs, deep-sea canyons and shipwrecks. They provide shelter for endangered species and act as living classrooms for students and scientists alike.
For the first time in two decades, communities are invited to nominate areas for consideration as national marine sanctuaries.
For more information and to nominate an area near you, click here.