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7th Annual Get Into Your Sanctuary Celebration:
Your Adventure Starts Here!
Saturday, August 1st, 2020 at 3:00PM PDT

Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is one of the most biodiverse areas in our world’s ocean. Birds, whales, sea otters, and harbor seals call the sanctuary home! Learn firsthand about this incredible ecosystem and why it needs to be protected. One of the best ways to enjoy it is through the many on-the-water recreational activities like kayaking, surfing, scuba diving, sailing, and fishing.

image of a surfer contemplating the swell at Lighthouse Point in MBNMSPhoto credits: Top Left: Bruce Sudweeks, Top Middle: Steve Lonhart/NOAA, Top Right: Sam Bailey, Bottom Left: Chad King/NOAA, Bottom Middle: Amity Wood/NOAA, Bottom Right: Chad King/NOAA

Join us for a special virtual adventure to experience Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary:

  • Go virtual kayaking in the famed Elkhorn Slough to see incredible wildlife!
  • Take a virtual scuba dive into a magnificent sunlit kelp forest and explore!
  • Go virtual surfing down endless crashing waves!

Experience the Virtual Program streaming on Saturday, August 1, 2020, at 3:00 PDT on NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Facebook Page


With Special Guests:
image of Paul Michel image of Steve Lonhart
Meet Paul Michel, Superintendent of Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! With over 20 years of experience in environmental protection, he strives to keep the sanctuary healthy and beautiful. Meet Steve Lonhart, Research Specialist and Unit Diving Supervisor at Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Steve’s workplace is often underwater in the kelp forest where he conducts research for the sanctuary.

image of Vince Schweitzer image of Keanna Miller
Meet Vince Schweitzer, Monterey Bay Kayaks instructor and guide! Vince loves educating others about our “beautiful and intricate” sanctuary and watching visitors experience it in person. When he’s not kayaking, Vince loves to sail, fish, and surf and thinks there is always something new to experience in Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary! Meet Keanna Miller, an awesome local Santa Cruz surfer and member of the USA Surfing U16 Jr. Team! She loves surfing and is passionate about protecting the sanctuary.

Tune into other Get Into Your Sanctuary live streaming events from across the National Marine Sanctuary System from July 31st–August 2nd, 2020! Check out the scheduled line up here!

Stay connected through our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter for more information and tips on how you can safely interact with the birds, whales, sea otters, and harbor seals that call the sanctuary home!



get in your sanctuary photo contest header image

Get Into Your Sanctuary Photo Contest

Show the world what the ocean and Great Lakes mean to you.


In celebration of national Get Into Your Sanctuary events, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries is hosting a photo contest. From Memorial Day weekend (May 23rd) through Labor Day weekend (September 7th), send us your best photos of the National Marine Sanctuary System and help us celebrate the beauty and importance of these special places.

Winning photos will be featured in next year's Earth Is Blue Magazine and on the Earth Is Blue social media campaign. Please click on the year to view the winners of the 2016, 2017, 2018, and 2019 contests.

Remember to practice good ocean etiquette when taking your photos!


Photo Categories

Photos will be accepted from May 27th to September 2nd in the following categories:

  • Sanctuary Views: Share your photos of beautiful sunsets or scenic shots of your favorite national marine sanctuary.
  • Sanctuary Life: Send us your best photos of sanctuary inhabitants like fish, birds, marine mammals, and other amazing ocean creatures.
  • Sanctuary Recreation: Enter your best images of people enjoying national marine sanctuaries, whether they're boating, kayaking, diving, swimming, conducting research, or just hanging out on the beach.Photos should be taken either before the start of the coronavirus pandemic, or should show proper social distancing.
  • Sanctuaries at Home: Show us how you're connecting to your National Marine Sanctuary System from home! Submissions to this category can include photos of stewardship activities from your home or neighborhood, or sanctuary-related artwork (paintings, drawings, etc.).

How to Enter

Submit your images (minimum of 1200 pixels wide, no more than 10) to us at earthisblue@noaa.gov. All images MUST include the following information: photographer's name, short description of when and where the photo was taken, and what is shown in the photo. If you would like us to tag you on Instagram if we share your photo there, please include your Instagram handle as well.

Remember to practice responsible recreation when taking your photos. When photographing marine mammals and other protected species, always follow NOAA Fisheries' best practices and guidelines to ensure that you are not disturbing these animals. Help us highlight wildlife photography best practices by indicating what kind of camera/lens you used and the approximate distance from which you took the photo. Animals need plenty of space to stay healthy and safe, so let's share our collective knowledge of responsible photography!

Additional Contest Rules

  1. Photographers must be at least 13 years of age or older as of the first day of the contest (May 23rd, 2020).
  2. We will assume that, in submitting a photo, you are the owner of the photo and have the right to publish it (including permission/model release for anyone identifiably pictured).
  3. By submitting a photo, you are giving us permission to use the photo for other purposes, such as on our website, on social media, and in other NOAA and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation publications. We will, of course, provide credit to photographers whenever we use any of the photos. Organizations other than NOAA and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation may use photographs submitted in this contest to promote sustainable and responsible recreation in the National Marine Sanctuary System. These photos are not for sale and are not for commercial use unless prior permission is arranged
  4. Only photos taken while in compliance with wildlife viewing regulations and government approach regulations will be considered. Do not harass animals just to get the "perfect" shot!
  5. Follow all social distancing guidelines laid out by the CDC and your state and local guidance
  6. Photos that are submitted without information on the photographer and a brief caption will not be considered.
  7. No watermarks on submitted photos.
  8. Photos should be a minimum of 1200 pixels wide (but the bigger, the better!).
  9. Please limit the total number of your photo submissions to 10 entries.

Help Us Spread the Word! Tell your friends about the contest on social media, and download the printable factsheet. Please use #ILoveMySanctuary and #RecreateResponsibly


Ready to Submit Your Photos?

Send them to earthisblue@noaa.gov!