National Marine Sanctuary System Celebrates 50 Years!

Top photo: Kids bodyboarding in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, via NOAA

Top photo: Kids bodyboarding in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary, via NOAA

Congratulations to the National Marine Sanctuary System, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year! Since its establishment on October 23, 1972, the National Marine Sanctuary System has grown into a national network of 15 marine sanctuaries plus the Papahānaumokuākea and Rose Atoll marine national monuments, which all together encompass more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters — roughly the size of Alaska.

According to John Armor, director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries:

We have made a positive impact in our half-century of stewardship and we’ll take some time to share and celebrate our achievements. We are committed to working to make our sanctuaries more welcoming and accessible to all. More importantly, we will look to the future and put ourselves on the right path to meet the challenges we face now and those we know are coming, and to be as ready as we can be for those we can’t yet see. We believe this will be a transformative year for the nation’s marine protected areas, and we hope you will be a part of it!

The summer-long 50th “Enjoy Spectacular” celebration will feature a variety of in-person and virtual Get Into Your Sanctuary events and activities throughout the country. You can:

  • Join in-person 50th anniversary events held nationwide throughout the summer.
  • Participate in a Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest through September 5th.
  • Download the Park Passport app and find a “blue” park or sanctuary near you.
  • Plus enjoy wildlife viewing, stewardship activities and opportunities, and more.

Here is a list of resources for you to learn more about how you can join the celebration:

The Network is grateful for the work that the National Marine Sanctuary System is doing to conserve diverse and significant marine ecosystems across our nation and provide all of us a direct connection to the wondrous underwater environments that surround us.

Happy 50th Anniversary, National Marine Sanctuary System!

About Rob Vandermark

Rob Vandermark is the executive director of the Marine Fish Conservation Network.

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