(Photo: Paulo Maurin/NOAA, taken in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument)

It’s our birthday! 🎂 🎉 

On October 23rd, 1972, Congress passed the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act, officially establishing what is today the NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. For 44 years, we’ve served as the trustee for America’s underwater parks and protected waters. We work with a variety of partners and the public to care for our world’s ocean and Great Lakes through research, education initiatives, planning, and community outreach. 

Thank you for joining us to protect our ocean treasures! What’s your favorite ocean or Great Lakes memory? 

Gorgeous, Weird Jellyfish Found 12,000 feet Below the Surface Near Mariana Trench

The jellyfish in question was filmed earlier this week near the Mariana Trench during a submersible dive to explore an area called the Enigma Seamount. The jellyfish was spotted at a depth of over 12,139 feet. The NOAA researchers identified it as a kind of jellyfish called a hydromedusa, a part of the genus Crossota. Watch a video of it floating around.

Photography by  NOAA

What makes octopuses so awesome?

Well, here are just a few things:

Okay, so that’s a lot of awesome right there. But what about this:

Plus, they have some pretty amazing defense mechanisms, from changing color to blend in with their surroundings (or let you know they are angry):

To squeezing themselves into impossibly tiny places. (Did we mention they have no skeleton?)

And a bonus fact: octopuses live in almost all of our national marine sanctuaries!

Waterspout, Florida 1969. The two flares with smoke trails near the bottom of the photograph are for indicating wind direction and general speed. NOAA National Weather Service Collection. 


Tele-Present Water Simulates a Spot in the Pacific from Halfway Around the World

Artist David Bowen is known for his kinetic sculptures that are driven by real-world data from natural phenomenon. For his work “Tele-Present Water,” first exhibited at the National Museum in Wroclaw, Poland, Bowen pulled real-time wave intensity and frequency data from the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) buoy station 46246 (49°59’7″ N 145°5’20″ W) located in the remote Shumagin Islands of Alaska. This information was scaled and transferred to a mechanical grid structure, resulting in an uncanny live simulation of the movement of water from halfway around the world. The piece, along with Bowen’s other works, speaks to the way technology and telecommunications can both alienate us from and unite us with the natural world. While technology has enabled us to control and model phenomena with unprecedented precision, it may also provide a means to understand the world in a more intimate, visceral way. 

WOW! Where did this hurricane come from?! Hurricane Patricia is the strongest hurricane in all recorded history. I’ve been so busy with work, I haven’t looked at the news all week. Look at that horrifying path! She’ll hit Texas over the weekend, which is already dealing with massive flooding and surely the governor will declare a state of emergency (and, sorry guys for the political jab, be forced to request federal assistance from Obama. Awkwarrdd…).

Oh man, this is horrible.

To put Patricia into perspective, Hurricane Katrina - which devastated New Orleans, killed ~2,000 people, and exposed how deeply weak the United States disaster response system really is - clocked maximum winds of 174 miles per hour (280kmh). Typhoon Haiyan in 2013 was the previous record holder with 196 mph/315kmh winds (~6,500 people killed).

Patricia is clocking 200 miles per hour (322kmh), making her the strongest storm, ever. No one knows what to expect regarding damage.

Eight million people in Mexico are in imminent danger, and millions more are at extremely high risk. Let’s hope Mexico is prepared…


On February 25, 2016, NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer embarked on a 23 day mission to explore uncharted ecosystems and seafloor in and around Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument (PMNM) off the coast of Hawai’i. The monument is one of the largest conservation areas in the world; over 139,797 square miles and is home to 7,000 species, a variety of geological features and a Japanese aircraft carrier lost during WWII. 

The discovery of an unknown octopod - possibly a new species - has already caught the attention of the internet.

According to Athline Clark, PMNM superintendent for NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, "NOAA’s exploration efforts provide the information we need to properly protect the health and integrity of this precious ecosystem.“

The expedition includes 24-hour operations consisting of remotely operated vehicle (ROV) dives and mapping operations. All dives are being live-streamed so you can follow along!

Images Courtesy of the NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2016 Hohonu Moana.

Why do invasive species matter?

This is an Indo-Pacific lionfish.

Lionfish are native to the Pacific Ocean, but in recent years they’ve been appearing in the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico and Caribbean, including in Gray’s Reef, Florida Keys, Flower Garden Banks and Monitor national marine sanctuaries.

With 18 venomous spines, they’re dangerous for divers in those areas.

But it’s not just humans that are at risk: lionfish are threatening entire ecosystems.

These fish have voracious appetites, and outside the Pacific they have no natural predators. A thousand lionfish can consume 5 million prey fish in a single year. 

So you can see how their impacts can begin to add up. Researchers in affected national marine sanctuaries are studying these fish to understand what they’re eating, and are working to remove them from their invaded habitats. You can help, too, by participating in lionfish derbies and eating lionfish at home and in restaurants.

Lionfish aren’t the only invasive species in national marine sanctuaries, though. In Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary in Lake Huron, zebra and quagga mussels compete with native mussel species.

Each one of these bivalves can filter up to a liter of water each day and alter food webs as a result. They also degrade the integrity of many of the Great Lakes’ historic shipwrecks.

Another invasive species, orange cup coral, has established itself throughout the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico, including in Flower Garden Banks and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries.

This bright coral thrives on artificial substrates like shipwrecks and oil and gas platforms; in Flower Garden Banks it is also expanding into the natural reef. 

As it colonizes these spaces, orange cup coral leaves less and less room for native corals and sponges.

The good news is, that from research to removal efforts to targeting your culinary adventuring, we can help protect these fragile ecosystems from invasive species.

Learn more about invasive species in your national marine sanctuaries.

Good news! NOAA Fisheries just gave scalloped hammerhead sharks protection under the Endangered Species Act!  Sharks worldwide are in danger because of “finning” for shark fin soup, and accidental bycatch. We’re glad to have played a lead role in passage of the shark fin ban in California, a movement that’s spreading to many other states – and even to China!

Learn more

Watch them live on exhibit

July was ‘absolutely’ Earth’s hottest month ever recorded

NOAA and NASA data reveal the Earth’s temperature reached its highest point in 136 years of record-keeping during July.

“July 2016 was absolutely the hottest month since the instrumental records began,” tweeted Gavin Schmidt, who directs NASA’s Goddard Institute for Space Studies, which is responsible for temperature measurements.

It was the 15th straight month of recording-breaking temperatures in NOAA’s analysis and 10th-straight in NASA’s, passing the previous hottest Julys by substantial margins.

“It’s a little alarming to me that we’re going through these records like nothing this year,” said Jason Furtado, a professor of meteorology at the University of Oklahoma.

“Each month just gives another data point that makes the evidence stronger that we’re changing the climate,” added Simon Donner, professor of climatology at the University of British Columbia.

July is usually the hottest month of the year, as it coincides with the peak of summer in the Northern Hemisphere. But this July was more than 1.5 degrees above average in both NOAA and NASA’s analyses.

“July 2016 was the 379th consecutive month with temperatures at least nominally above the 20th century average,” NOAA said.

Aricle: WaPo

(Image credit: U.S. Navy)

Look at that picture and consider the question.

Why are there mountains at that part of the ocean but not in most of the others?

Hot spot? Oceanic ridge?

The answer is because that’s the only spot where a ship’s been.

72% of the Earth’s surface is below the ocean. Most of the Southern Hemisphere hasn’t been explored however and according to geophysicist Robert Ballard, “There are only ever four or five people on the ocean floor at any one time.”

People played golf on the Moon before anyone entered the single largest feature on our own planet, the Mid-Ocean Ridge which covers almost a quarter of the planet.

It’s remarkable that there are people conceiving of ways to colonize other moons and planets and yet where are all the ocean colonies?

Most of the planet doesn’t get touched by Sunlight. At the deepest parts of the oceans, sunlight cannot penetrate and yet life thrives there, living off of chemosynthesis and the heat from the Earth’s core. These same conditions could enable life on Europa and Enceladus.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is America’s other exploration program (NASA’s sibling). One year of NASA’s funding (which is not a lot) could fund our entire oceanic exploration program… for 1,600 years.

Earth is a planet in space. It would do us well to remember this. There’s still so much to learn from our mother planet, why spurn these valuable lessons?

What’s a nudibranch, anyway?

These soft-bodied mollusks are closely related to sea slugs!

“Nudibranch” means “naked gills,” referring to the fact that they carry their gills on their back. Here’s a closeup of nudibranch gills:

Many nudibranch species are spectacularly colorful, from the Spanish shawl nudibranch, found in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary:

to the opalescent nudibranch of Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary, which preys on hydroids and anemones. During digestion, the hydroid and anemone stinging cells actually travel into the nudibranch’s colorful appendages and can be used against the nudibranch’s own predators!

Nudibranchs are found all over the world’s ocean and in many of your national marine sanctuaries. 

What’s your favorite kind of nudibranch?


Images + GIFs : Deep-Sea Creatures

Continued: Last week we used GIFs to introduce some creatures that live at the bottom of the Gulf of Mexico, as captured on this live-stream for the past weeks. Here’s more! 

There’s a lot more photos and explanations where that came from.

Brought to you by: Researchers aboard the Okeanos Explorer who operated the sub; National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) who led the expedition; and GIF-extraordinaire Rose.


2014 Warmest Year In Modern Record

Earth’s surface temperature was 1.24 degrees Fahrenheit above the 20th century average, making it the warmest since records began in 1880, NASA and NOAA scientists reported today.

Each agency did its own independent analysis. Their results were nearly identical, and both analyses matched work done by the UK and Japanese meteorological agencies. They found that nine of the 10 warmest years on record occurred since 2000. This year in the U.S. also marked the 18th consecutive year that the average temperature exceeded the 20th century average.

“This is the latest in a series of warm years, in a series of warm decades. While the ranking of individual years can be affected by chaotic weather patterns, the long-term trends are attributable to drivers of climate change that right now are dominated by human emissions of greenhouse gases,” said NASA scientist Gavin Schmidt. Read more here and here.

Keep reading

Scientists have recently discovered an asphalt-ecosystem created by an undersea volcano.

-The presence of chemosynthetic tube worms at the site led scientists to believe that there was more to this site than what we could see.

-The first asphalt extrusion had a number of corals and anemones colonizing it

According to a press release, asphalt that makes up these volcanoes is produced in the same process used for gas and oil, and these may have been transformed by tectonic movement, along with exposure to gas and seawater. The Gulf of Mexico contains many oil reserves - some of which exists at boiling temperatures. Once the extremely hot oil evaporates, it leaves a gooey remnant, and this will become the asphalt.

Researcher saw video of corals, barnacles, anemones, and fish. Bacteria that can utilize the oil as food generated a sulfur-based food chain for chemosynthetic tube worms and mats of other sulfur oxidizing bacteria.