Our love for the ocean is manta be! Today marks the 46th birthday of the National Marine Sanctuary System. 🎂🌊

Today, we serve as the trustee for a network of underwater parks encompassing more than 600,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes. It’s been a pleasure to serve as stewards for our special marine and Great Lakes places, and we’re looking forward to everything to come. 

Please help us celebrate by sharing your favorite sanctuary memories when you reblog! 

(Photo: Beata Lerman) 

[Image description: A manta ray swims above the camera, backlit by sunlight. This photo was taken in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.]

We’re maximizing our baby cephalopod time today with this baby octopus! This larval octopus was caught during ocean monitoring efforts with the Applied California Current Ecosystem Studies program in Cordell Bank and Greater Farallones national marine sanctuaries. Have you ever seen something so adorable?

Look closely and you can see small spots. Those are cells called chromatophores, which will help the octopus change color and camouflage itself as an adult!

[Video description: A small translucent spotted octopus swims in a tray of water.]

Watch out – this Venus flytrap anemone stings! 

Like the plant from which they get their name, Venus flytrap anemones trap unwitting prey. The anemone’s tentacles contain stinging cells that inject venom and can close to keep prey from escaping. 

This beautiful anemone was spotted in the deep waters of National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa by researchers aboard the NOAA Ship Okeanos Explorer. The anemone itself is perched on top of a dead Iridogorgia coral, perhaps to better access the current and passing prey. 

(Photo: NOAA Office of Ocean Exploration and Research, 2017 American Samoa)


Happy World Oceans Day from your National Marine Sanctuary System!

The ocean sustains us: it provides food, medicines, and the air we breathe; it regulates our climate and weather; and it forms the basis of our economy. Plus, it’s a perfect place to relax, reflect, and play. 

Join us today to celebrate the ocean. What does the ocean do for you?

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!

Three cheers for the pom pom crab! 

Also known as the Hawaiian boxer crab, these crabs are found in the waters around the Hawaiian Islands – including in Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary. Its pom-poms are actually small anemones that it carries around for defense. 

(Photo: NOAA) 

(Image description: A small reddish crab with black lines on its legs and dark red patterns on its back. The crab is holding two yellow sea anemones.]

This Risso’s dolphin is leaping out of the water to wish you a happy National Wildlife Day! 

Sometimes spotted in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, Risso’s dolphins are easily identifiable by their white scars. These scars may be made by other Risso’s dolphins or by squid, their preferred prey. These dolphins feed mostly at night, hunting squid that move toward the surface. 

(Photo: Douglas Croft/Marine Life Studies, under NMSF Permit #20519) 

[Image description: A Risso’s dolphin leaping out of the water. It is covered in scars that are lighter than its mostly-gray body.]

“One day, there was an injured elephant seal on the public beach outside my office. It’s a popular beach with people and dog-walkers. There was also a group of three families from the US and France at a family reunion. I asked the kids if they wanted to help me make a driftwood fence around the injured seal to keep dogs and people away. The kids, four to 12 years old, quickly gathered bundles of driftwood and made a stick fence around the seal giving it about 20 feet on all sides. The parents wanted to leave to see the sunset, but the kids would not go until their project was done. They were so proud of their accomplishment, I got a huge group hug and lots of group pictures before they left. In my work, this is what I’m most proud of: connecting kids to the ocean, making them feel important through stewardship activities, and empowering them to take action." 

– Carolyn Skinder, Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary southern region program coordinator 

What inspires you about the ocean? 

(Photo: Robert Schwemmer/NOAA) 

[Image description: An elephant seal resting in the surf.]

How can an octopus be so colorful? 🐙 🌈

Many cephalopods have special cells in their skin tissue called chromatophores, which enable them to change color rapidly. A part of their neuromuscular system, these cells receive signals from the environment than an octopus can use to inform color change. Chromatophores can help octopodes like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary blend in with their surroundings or flash a warning to predators! 


It’s not the latest Snapchat filter – this Hawaiian monk seal made its own flower crown for a seal-fie! 

These endangered seals haul out on beaches throughout Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument and Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary to rest and look generally fabulous. Make sure to give them plenty of space so they can enjoy their time on the beach! 

(Photo: NOAA) 

[Image description: A close-up on a Hawaiian monk seal’s face. Its eyes are closed and it is nestled under greenery in a way that makes the plants look like a flower crown.]

Did you know the largest sea turtle in the world can be found in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary, just off the coast of California? 

Leatherback sea turtles like this one can be more than six feet long and weigh more than 2,000 pounds. These huge turtles have a big appetite for jellyfish – look closely, and you can see the tentacles of a sea nettle jelly hanging out of this one’s mouth. 

That food preference puts them especially at risk from marine debris, as floating plastic bags and other plastics look remarkably like swimming jellies. Help protect these endangered sea turtles and always dispose of your trash properly!

(Photo: Douglas Croft) 

[Image description: A closeup view of a leatherback sea turtle’s head while it swims at the ocean surface. A sea nettle tentacle is hanging out from the corner of its mouth.]

🐋 It’s peak humpback whale season at Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary! 🐋

Each year, humpback whales flock to this sanctuary from Alaska to mate and calve. Why do they travel so far to give birth? These waters are highly suitable for raising a youngster: warm, clear, and free of predators! 

(Photo: J. Moore/NOAA, under NOAA Permit #15240)

A little Wednesday Wisdom: Wisdom, the oldest known bird in the wild, is a mother again! 

Approximately 66 years old, Wisdom returns each year to Midway Atoll National Wildlife Refuge in Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument. Her chick hatched approximately two months after she was first spotted incubating an egg at the same nesting site she and her mate, Akeakamai, use each year. Congratulations, Wisdom! 

(Photo: Naomi Blinick/USFWS)


🐬 Lift off! 🐬

This Risso’s dolphin was spotted leaping through the waves in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. Risso’s dolphins are easily identifiable by their white scars, which may be made by other Risso’s dolphins or by squid, their preferred prey. These dolphins feed mostly at night, hunting squid that move toward the surface. 

(Photo: Douglas Croft)

What better way to celebrate Cephalopod Week than with a stubby squid? 

Last year, we teamed up with Nautilus Live to explore the deep ocean in and around Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary, and spotted this little googly-eyed cephalopod! 

Though they look like a cross between an octopus and a squid, stubby squid are actually closely related to cuttlefish. They spend their lives on the seafloor, coating themselves in a mucus jacket and burrowing into the sediment. Leaving just those big eyes peeking above the surface, they remain buried until prey items like shrimp or small fish – or a curious ROV – pass by. 

(Photo: OET/NOAA)