National Marine Sanctuaries

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is a private, non-profit organization whose vision is to strengthen and expand the network of national marine sanctuaries for the benefit of current and future generations.

The National Aquarium is proud to partner with the National Marine Sanctuaries System

Our nation’s vast ocean riches are protected by a system of national marine sanctuaries, cherished by people around the country and safeguarded by a team of global ocean leaders.

US Marine Spaces
Your National Marine Sanctuary Foundation system is a diverse network of the best places in our ocean environment, from humpback whale feeding and birthing grounds and shipwrecks of national interest, to coral reefs and kelp beds that represent the finest ocean and Great Lake areas. Through a series of lectures, we offer the chance to meet ocean experts who work on the front line of ocean conservation and exploration. Our year-long lecture series brings to you the luminaries, scientists, explorers and artists who protect and use these special places to drive change toward a sustained ocean and a sustainable future.

Saving Our Sanctuaries

The ocean is undoubtedly one of our planet’s greatest treasures, our life-support system, our blue lungs. Destructive practices like overfishing, pollution and coastal development, however, continue to deplete marine ecosystems, threatening the sea’s continued ability to provide those essential resources.

To protect these critical habitats, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s (NOAA) National Marine Sanctuary System has preserved some of the most amazing and endangered resources in our oceans for more than 40 years. These marine sanctuaries not only provide secure habitats for species that would be threatened in unprotected waters; they also protect the natural topography of the environment while serving as recreational places for people to enjoy the ocean in a safe way.

81% of whale strikes in busy shipping lanes have been reduced since the establishment of the Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary.

Each sanctuary strictly enforces regulations regarding which activities are allowed and which are not, and many utilize specific initiatives to educate visitors about appropriate behaviors while in the marine environment. These regulations are designed to ensure that the sanctuary thrives to its fullest extent.

“If these areas are not protected, they will be vulnerable and utilized for other purposes,” says Jay Bradley, curator at the National Aquarium. “Protected places are important—marine sanctuaries, national parks, marine reserves, whatever they might be—because they afford those areas security.”

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