America’s national parks include some of the most cherished natural landscapes and cultural sites in the world. Today is World Heritage Day and we’re recognizing a unique park with a global profile. Hawai’i Volcanoes National Park is one of the few places on Earth where visitors can safely get an upclose look at an active volcano. Witness powerful natural forces at work as Kīlauea and Mauna Loa (two of the world’s most active volcanoes) continue to add land to the island of Hawaiʻi. Photo by Janice Wei, National Park Service.
From the bottom of the deepest glacial fjord to the summit of its highest peak, Glacier Bay National Park encompasses some of our continent’s most amazing scenery and wildness. If we need a place to intrigue and inspire us, this is it. Alaska’s Glacier Bay is a living laboratory, a designated wilderness, a biosphere reserve and a world heritage site. It’s a marine park, where great adventure awaits by boating into inlets, coves and close to its dynamic, namesake glacier. It’s also a land park, with its snow-capped mountains, spectacular glaciers and vast forests. Photo by National Park Service.
Ice clings to the granite shoreline as the sun rises above Acadia National Park in Maine. As dawn turns to day, visitors can explore the park’s forests, wetlands, beaches, lakes and mountains. There’s so much to see and do, but be sure to leave enough energy to find the perfect place to watch the sunset. Photo by National Park Service.
Within sight of downtown Miami, Biscayne National Park in Florida protects a rare combination of aquamarine waters, emerald islands and fish-bejeweled coral reefs. There’s also evidence of 10,000 years of human history, from pirates and shipwrecks to pineapple farmers and presidents. Outdoors enthusiasts can boat, fish, snorkel, camp, watch wildlife or simply enjoy a gorgeous sunrise over the ocean. Photo courtesy of Andrew R. Slaton.
It’s World Turtle Day! From a tiny baby bog turtle to a massive leatherback, turtles come in many shapes and sizes. Found gliding through the open ocean or slowly trudging over desert plains, they are fascinating creatures. Because of environmental threats, several species are endangered and need our help. Video of a baby turtle running for the surf by Dry Tortugas National Park.
Today, President Obama expanded the Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument to a total protected area of 582,578 square miles – making it the largest marine protected area on Earth. Part of the most remote island archipelago on Earth, Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument supports a reef ecosystem with more than 7,000 marine species and is home to many species of coral, fish, birds and marine mammals. This includes the endangered Hawaiian monk seal, the endangered leatherback and hawksbill sea turtles. Top and bottom photos courtesy of James Watt, middle photo by Lindsey Kramer, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
The treasure you’ll find at Blackbeard Island National Wildlife Refuge in Georgia comes in golden sunrise sparkles, glimpses of rare wildlife and 5,618 acres of precious forests, marshes and beaches. Only accessible by boat, the island was used by the Navy as a source of live oak timber for shipbuilding in the early 1800s. Now, the island is a source of joy and solitude for all who visit. Photo by Becky Skiba, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
It’s National Wildlife Refuge Week! Whether you’re looking for flippers, feathers, fur, fins or fangs, you can find amazing animals at wildlife refuges. Refuges across the country provide habitat for more than 700 species of birds, 220 species of mammals, 250 reptile and amphibian species and more than 1,000 species of fish. There’s at least one national wildlife refuge in every state and territory and within an hour’s drive of most major metropolitan areas. Photo of seals at Nantucket National Wildlife Refuge in Massachusetts by Amanda Boyd, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Corals like this one in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are gorgeous, diverse marine species found throughout our world’s ocean. But did you know that corals actually provide humans several critical services?
In addition to sustaining biodiversity and providing us food, medicine, and recreational opportunities, coral reefs can serve as a critical, natural defense for coastal communities. Healthy coral reefs like those in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary can diffuse much of the energy of hard-hitting ocean waves before waves ever reach the shore, helping to protect coastlines from damage, especially in the event of a large storm.
Please take a moment to enjoy this gorgeous spring scene from Point Reyes National Seashore in California. Imagine the smell of the salt air and blooming flowers, the call of the birds and the warmth of the setting sun on your skin. Let everything else melt away. As photographer Nick Steinberg says, “Every time I’m there, I feel like the only one on earth.” Photo courtesy of Nick Steinberg.
Here’s a great way to end World Oceans Day. This baby turtle hatchling journeys to the ocean at Dry Torturgas National Park in Florida. These little guys know how important oceans are to all living things. National Park Service video. 🐢🐢