Get Into Your Sanctuary Day 2017

By Alison Thompson, guest author

Bike, boat, dive, or swim over to your local sanctuary on August 12, 2017, to experience “Get into Your Sanctuary” day and celebrate our playgrounds of the ocean and Great Lakes. Our National Marine Sanctuary System provides us with access to our most iconic natural and cultural marine resources. No matter what your interests, there is something that you can do at a national marine sanctuary on August 12 that will make you smile. Whether you live right on the beach, or a day’s drive away, make your way to one of our 13 national marine sanctuaries for an unforgettable experience.

Matt McIntosh/NOAA

The National Marine Sanctuary System was created for us, the people, to enjoy and use, and though we celebrate our ocean’s playgrounds every day, we especially encourage you to break out your dive gear, dust off your fishing pole, toss your surfboard in your car, and pack your lunch to spend a day outdoors taking in our favorite marine environments this August 12. No matter what your interests are, there is an activity or event at a sanctuary near you that you’ll enjoy. Maybe your dad or Aunt or best friend loves history more than you thought possible? We have a sanctuary for that! Try visiting Thunder Bay’s shipwrecks, or the USS Monitor at Monitor National Marine Sanctuary. Do you have a cousin or sister or coworker obsessed with sea otters or dolphins or whales? We have a sanctuary for that too! Many of our sanctuaries are filled with marine animals like sea otters at Monterey Bay, humpback whales at Stellwagen Bank, manatees at Florida Keys, and Risso’s dolphins at Olympic Coast. Do you need to escape the heat at home? Visit your local sanctuary for an end of summer trip to cool off and swim, dive, and snorkel in our pristine ocean environments. Celebrate the end of summer while celebrating our sanctuaries. Show your love for our sanctuaries during your swim, kayak, dive, or history lesson by entering into the “Get into Your Sanctuary” photo contest and using #ILoveMySanctuary on Instagram, Facebook, and Twitter.

Matt McIntosh/NOAA

Each of our marine sanctuaries has planned activities for visitors including hikes, virtual reality dives, kayaking, and beach excursions so that visitors can celebrate the diversity and value of our treasured sanctuaries. Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, with the help of the Channel Islands Naturalist Corps, is hosting hiking excursions, boat trips, and kayaking adventures out on the kelp beds to introduce visitors to the “Galapagos of North America.” Explore sea caves and keep an eye out for sea lions and dolphins! Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary is bringing the ocean to land so you don’t have to get your feet wet this August 12. The sanctuary has arranged for deep water exploration on the shore with the help of the Exploration Vessel (E/V) Nautilus and their live ship-to-shore telecast. Visitors at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary should check out the new Flower Garden Banks exhibit at Moody Gardens and take a virtual dive through the sanctuary! For all our history lovers out there, Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary is the place to be. Thunder Bay is encouraging kids to explore some of its 100 identified shipwrecks by providing all kids age 12 and under with free tickets for glass bottom boat tours. 

Head out to your local national marine sanctuary on August 12 and celebrate the third annual “Get into Your Sanctuary” day with family and friends. Just like our diverse marine environments in our sanctuaries, there are diverse activities for everyone to enjoy! For more information on activities and events, click here.

Karlyn Langjahr/NOAA