Stay Connected to the Ocean and Great Lakes while Physical Distancing

Photo Credit: Emma Hickerson/NOAA, in collaboration with The Ocean Agency

We face uncertain times with the continued spread of COVID-19 across the US and the globe, and our thoughts are with those who are ill from the virus, and with those facing economic hardship. 

We all want to do our part to help, and that means practicing physical distancing and remaining at home to slow the spread of the virus. However, some people are finding that this is no easy task – there is only so much to do to pass those hours. 

With travel plans cancelled, how do we bring the long awaited tropical vacation into the home? It may not be recommended to visit national marine sanctuaries right now, but there’s an endless supply of films , online courses, virtual tours, and other resources to keep you entertained and connected to our ocean and Great Lakes. Here are a few:

Photo Credit: Bryan Dort

To discover the wonder beneath the waves:

    • “Schedule” a virtual dive at: NOAA Virtual Dives. Take a trip back to the Industrial Revolution where you can see the real ships that traversed the mighty Great Lakes and Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary or transform your living room into the shimmering blue waters of Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. The possibilities are endless. Dive in! 

    • Let your local (or not-so-local) aquarium bring you closer to the iconic species that call our ocean home. Swim with sharks through the National Aquarium’s Black Tip Reef Live Cam, or head out west to see those cuddly otters and bright jellies at the Monterey Bay Aquarium. 

    • Take an underwater adventure with National Geographic as your personal tour guide. From Drain the Oceans to Drain The Great Lakes to Drain the Titanic, you can unearth mysteries, shipwrecks, and treasures all on Disney+

    • See what’s happening in real time beneath the waves in the midst of a kelp forest in Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary via a livecam from The mesmerizing swaying forests of underwater trees are soothing to the soul, and you never know what might show up. Colorful fish? Sea lions? Sharks?  It’s live, so anything can happen!

To explore beyond our horizons:

    • Stay in school! ClassCentral offers free online classes in all subjects including ocean conservation, environmental science and marine biology. Brush up on oceanography, join a 5-day online workshop with the Smithsonian’s #EarthOptimism project or learn about some of the ocean’s biggest threats and how to solve them through the course One Planet, One Ocean

    • Learn the ins and outs of working at an aquarium or fun facts about your favorite species by visiting the  New England Aquarium’s library for virtual tours and educational presentations.

    • It’s never too late to get inspired and learn more about our ocean’s most pressing challenges. Listen in on Rising Tide: The Ocean Podcast, by Blue Frontier’s Executive Director Dave Helvarg to stay connected!

    • Brush up on your ocean critters with NOAA’s #EarthisBlue videos of the week. Check out this series on youtube to take a step into America’s national marine sanctuaries. 

Photo Credit: Matt McIntosh/NOAA


To protect habitats and species unlike any other on earth:


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation is focused on protecting our ocean and Great Lakes, and inspiring, educating, and connecting people with our national marine sanctuaries and monuments. During these challenging times we can look to the ocean and Great Lakes for moments of light. 


We urge everyone to take necessary precautions and actions to slow the spread of COVID-19. Go to the CDC website for the latest information and resources.