National Marine Sanctuary Foundation unveils new brand inviting people to Discover Wonder in national marine sanctuaries and monuments

Silver Spring, Md. – September 17, 2019 – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation launched a new brand today to invite people to discover the wonders of our national marine sanctuaries and marine national monuments, which are home to miraculous species, extraordinary seascapes, and cultural and maritime resources that tell our shared history.  

“We invite people with a stake in the health of their planet to work with us to protect their place in it,” said National Marine Sanctuary Foundation President and CEO Kris Sarri.

The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the national non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. Working in close partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the trustee of marine sanctuaries and two marine monuments, the Foundation supports scientific research, promotes community stewardship of our environment, and fosters the next generation of ocean guardians. Through our work with national marine sanctuaries and monuments, we protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve America’s maritime heritage. The Foundation has four local chapters that work with Gray’s Reef, Olympic Coast, Monterey Bay and Florida Keys national marine sanctuaries to conserve our ocean through public outreach and education.

Americans care deeply about the ocean and Great Lakes, whether they live along the coast or in the heartland of the country,” Sarri said. “The ocean carries fond memories. For me, it is of my childhood exploring tide pools and running up the shoreline as fast as I could, trying to outrace each wave. For others the ocean and Great Lakes are their livelihood providing fish for food or transportation corridors for goods. And yet for others, it provides a spiritual connection.”

The Foundation’s new brand illustrates how sanctuaries and monuments connect us to our planet. The new logo is built from three distinct shapes that represent the pillars of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation: the half circle, inviting people to discover the wonders of that lie beneath the surface; the wave pattern, inviting them to explore more about their wonders; and the arc, inviting people to work with us to protect these treasured places.  These three shapes come together to form a united mark, illustrating the power of connection of the National Marine Sanctuary System and inviting people to join with us to conserve our ocean and Great Lakes.  The Foundation worked with Washington, DC-based firm GMMB to redesign the brand.

“Supporting our marine sanctuaries and monuments connects us to our communities, our country, and our world. We invite everyone to join us in conserving our waters, for the good of the world and everything in it,” said Sarri.

To learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation’s brand, visit


The wonders of your national marine sanctuaries:

  • Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary located off the coast of Alpena, Michigan in Lake Huron is next to “Shipwreck Alley”, the name given to the most perilous stretch of water in the Great Lakes.  Unpredictable weather, murky fog banks, sudden gales, and rocky shoals claimed more than 200 ships, 100 of which have been discovered so far. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation, in partnership with the Friends of the Thunder Bay National Marine Sanctuary, is producing detailed maps of Lake Huron to allow the sanctuary to better manage and interpret its rich maritime heritage and share it with visitors to the site. 
  • Stellwagen Bank National Marine Sanctuary is just 6 miles north of the Provincetown spit at the tip of Cape Cod, MA. Stellwagen Bank was dry land during the last Ice Age, when sea levels were lower than today, and mastodons and mammoths roamed. As America’s oldest commercial fishing grounds, the bank and its surrounding waters were once a destination for whale-hunting ships. Now whale watching is one of the area’s biggest attractions. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation is partnering with researchers and commercial fishermen to study the interactions between gillnet fisheries and predators such as dogfish and seals, in order to reduce conflict and bycatch mortality.
  • Forty miles outside of the hustle and bustle of Washington, DC lies the United States’ most recently designated sanctuary, Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary. The sanctuary is renowned for its “Ghost fleet” of over 110 World War I steamships, evidence of a massive US wartime response to U-boats sinking vessels in the Atlantic.  In addition to historic shipwrecks, some which even date back to the Civil War, Mallows Bay-Potomac River National Marine Sanctuary hosts nearly 12,000 year old archaeological artifacts. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation is working with two Maryland public schools in the area on stewardship of their local watershed.  The schools are reaching hundreds of students through the NOAA Ocean Guardian School Program.  
  • Monitor National Marine Sanctuary protects one square mile of open seas that includes the wreck of the USS Monitor. Launched in January 1862, USS Monitor was created to lead the Union Navy and contest the Confederate Navy’s construction of an impenetrable ironclad, the CSS Virginia. On March 1862, Monitor faced CSS Virginia in the Battle of Hampton Roads and sailed away from the encounter, but was lost at sea when a storm raged down the coast of North Carolina. The remains of the formidable USS Monitor was discovered in 1973, becoming the focal point of the nation’s first national marine sanctuary in 1975. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation helped NOAA and the U.S. Navy honor the crew of the USS Monitor by supporting the dedication of a memorial at Hampton National Cemetery and the burial of recovered remains of two unknown Monitor sailors at Arlington National Cemetery.
  • Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary encompasses 22 square miles off the Georgia coast. The sanctuary conserves the marine life of the reef, from vibrant sea stars and nudibranchs to teeming schools of fish, gliding loggerhead sea turtles, and magnificent hammerhead sharks. Gray’s Reef is also important given its proximity to the only known winter calving ground for the endangered North Atlantic right whale. Scientists study fish and invertebrate biology and behavior, characterize marine habitats, and monitor conditions in order to better understand the effects of both natural and human-driven events. OUR IMPACT: In partnership with The Nature Conservancy, the Foundation and the sanctuary are engaging recreational fishermen to promote best fishing practices, such as the use of descending devices, to safeguard important snapper and grouper recreational fisheries. 
  • Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary covers 3,840 square miles of protected turquoise waters surrounding 1,700 miles of limestone islands, creating an array of habitats for around 6,000 species of flora and fauna to thrive. Herons, egrets, and mangrove cuckoos can be seen feeding in the mangroves, flats and seagrass beds, while hawks, eagles and ospreys swoop down to fish in the channels. Manatees drift through the seagrass beds, bottlenose dolphins and sea turtles glide through the water, while tropical fish swarm around vibrant coral reefs.  The sanctuary protects the only coral reef barrier in North America, which is home to 50 species of corals, including the federally protected Staghorn and Elkhorn corals. Divers and snorkelers can explore 2,000 protected shipwrecks.  OUR IMPACT: Since July 2018, the Foundation, in partnership with the sanctuary, has provided funding to Blue Star Diving Operators to support marine debris cleanups in the sanctuary as part of the Goal: Clean Seas Florida Keys initiative. The Foundation’s funding has so far supported the removal of more than 15,000 pounds of debris and 18,000 feet of line.  
  • The only marine sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, protects 56 square miles of a rich ecosystem created by waters from 31 states and Canada. Flower Garden Banks is brimming with activity, from the Spotted eagle ray that glides near the seafloor and schools around the banks, to the Golden Smooth Trunkfish, a unique variant only found here. These living communities grow and thrive atop three salt domes: East and West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank. Coral and colorful marine invertebrates sit atop the banks, while fish, sea turtles, whale sharks, and manta rays occupy the waters above and around them. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation is supporting satellite tagging of manta rays in the sanctuary to better understand the iconic species and their habitats.
  • Just off the rugged Olympic Peninsula, expansive sandy beaches, tide pools, rocky reefs, and deep sea canyons below the open ocean create an array of habitats for diverse marine life in Olympic Coast National Marine Sanctuary. Olympic Coast’s waters are a uniquely productive upwelling zone where fish and some marine mammals navigate through dense kelp forests and deep sea coral and sponge communities. Rocky reefs are home to many types of fish, invertebrates and seaweeds, while Sea stars, hermit crabs and anemones thrive in tide pools. Olympic Coast boasts 29 species of marine mammals, including year-long residents such as the Steller and California sea lions and migrationary marvels, including humpback and gray whales.  Olympic Coast is also defined by its long, rich history and cultural landscape of four groups of Native American peoples – the Makah, Hoh, and Quileute tribes and the Quinault Nation – who have lived here for thousands of years, drawing sustenance from the ocean and rivers. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation supports Washington CoastSavers, an alliance of partners and volunteers dedicated to keeping the state’s beaches clean of marine debris through coordinated beach cleanups, education and prevention.
  • Cordell Bank National Marine Sanctuary spans 1,286-square-miles northwest of San Francisco and includes the bank, the undersea Bodega Canyon, and granite and rock reefs. The bank and the southward flowing California Current creates an annual nutrient-rich upwelling that supports a blossoming, species rich ecosystem. Sponges, sea stars, sea cucumbers, and moon jellies thrive in the sanctuary’s water, which also attracts feeding rockfish, tuna, mackerels, and, in summer, ocean sunfish. These seafood banquet draws large marine mammals, like Humpback whales, Pacific white-sided dolphins, Dall’s porpoises, California sea lions and an array of seabirds including five species of albatross and Cassin’s auklets. OUR IMPACT:  The Foundation supported Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) surveys as part of a long term plan to monitor ecosystems at the ocean’s floor and provide a fine scale characterization of the sanctuary’s invertebrate and fish community to inform a comprehensive monitoring plan.
  • Since it’s designation in 1981, California’s Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary has nearly doubled in size to now support 36 marine mammal species and more than 250,000 sea birds. The sanctuary has one of the planet’s largest congregations of white sharks and the largest concentration of breeding seabirds in the continental United States, ranging from herons and egrets in the esteros to auklets and puffins roaming the islands. It is also a feeding, breeding, and migratory pathway for a variety of marine mammals. Hundreds of marine invertebrate species live in its waters, including deep-sea corals, sponges and other mollusks and crustaceans. Nearly 400 species of fish use every part of the sanctuary, from the estuaries to the ocean depths, to feed, migrate, rest, and reproduce. Wetlands in the sanctuary are designated as globally important under the Ramsar Convention, an international treaty to protect wetlands. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation supports the LiMPETS (Long-term Monitoring Program and Experiential Training for Students) citizen science program for students, educators and volunteer groups to monitor the coastal ecosystems of the sanctuary and create a new generation of informed and engaged ocean stewards.
  • Known as the “Serengeti of the Sea,” Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary is a biologically rich, vast landscape of unique habitats and cultural aspects. Stretching from Marin to Cambria, covering 276 miles of shoreline and around 30 miles of ocean, Monterey Bay is one of the United States’ largest national marine sanctuaries. From the surrounding rolling hills and steep rocky cliffs to the sandy dunes and the wild ocean, this sanctuary is a highly biodiverse corridor. Sea otters drift among kelp forests, sea lions and elephant seals rest on sandy beaches, sea stars cling to rocks in the intertidal zone, sharks cruise in the offshore waters, colorful drab fish inhabit deep-sea coral communities, and seabirds circle and dive to feed. OUR IMPACT:  The Foundation supports Team OCEAN, which puts trained volunteer naturalists out on the water to educate and interact with kayakers. Volunteers serve as docents for the sanctuary, promoting respectful wildlife viewing, and protecting marine mammals from disturbance. 
  • A swirl of warm and cool currents surrounding Channel Islands National Marine Sanctuary creates an exceptionally productive ecosystem for supporting a wide range of species. Undersea forests of giant kelp shelter invertebrates and fish. Sandy beaches host colonies of sea lions and seals, like the Northern elephant seals who breed on San Miguel island in January and February. Twenty-seven species of marine mammals, from blue whales to porpoises, pass through sanctuary waters, breaching, surfing waves, and delighting observers on shore and on whale-watching vessels. The sanctuary also protects islands important to the Chumash people, who hunt and gather food from the ocean, the islands, and the mainland’s coastal mountains. OUR IMPACT: The Foundation supports the Blue Whales and Blue Skies program which incentivizes ships to slow down their speed to cut air pollution and reduce the risk of fatal ship strikes on whales.
  • In 1992, The Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale National Marine Sanctuary was created to protect around 10,000 whales, or koholā in Hawaiian, their habitat, and the deep-rooted relationship between the native people, whales, and the long-term health of the ocean. The shallow, warm waters that swirl around the main Hawaiian Islands create a vital habit for the protection of humpback whales. The sanctuary works to mālama (care for) the ocean, as ancient Hawaiians did. Within the sanctuary are the remains of traditional Hawaiian aquaculture ponds where fish were raised for food, and traces of fishing tools and other artifacts relating to coastal settlements.  The sanctuary is the only place in US coastal waters where these gentle giants return each winter to reproduce. OUR IMPACT:  The Foundation supports the Sanctuary Ocean Count as a means to provide Hawaii residents and visitors with the opportunity to observe humpback whales in their breeding grounds by conducting a yearly shore-based count. To date, the Sanctuary Ocean Count covers 60 sites on four islands, with an enlistment of over 2000 volunteers.
  • Papahānaumokuākea Marine National Monument encompasses 582,578 square miles of the vast Pacific Ocean, and its name commemorates the union of two Hawaiian ancestors, Papahānaumoku and Wākea. The remote location makes it one of the world’s most untouched marine environments. Threatened green sea turtles and endangered Hawaiian monk seals are a few of the rare species that call the Hawaiian island chain home. Papahānaumokuākea is also home to 14 million seabirds, including the critically endangered Laysan duck.  OUR IMPACT: Though the site is not accessible to the public, the Foundation operates the Mokupāpapa Discovery Center in Hilo, HI, in partnership with NOAA, to educate about and experience about its rich natural and cultural heritage. 
  • National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is the most remote national marine sanctuary.  It protects 13,581 square miles of nearshore coral reef and offshore open ocean waters.  The reef, with over 150 different coral species, abounds with an incredible diversity of marine life. Massive Porite coral heads at Ta’u Islands are the oldest and largest in the world. One of them, Big Momma, is over 500 years old and 21 feet high. The sanctuary is a patchwork of different worlds – both in the water and on land. National Marine Sanctuary of American Samoa is where natural and culturally preserved artifacts and areas represent the 3,000 years of American Samoan history and traditions. Below the water’s surface, nestled in the white sandy bottom of the ocean floor, sit wrecks of whalers and other lost ships. On land, World War II remnants, like coastal pillboxes and gun emplacements, lie scattered across beaches. OUR IMPACT:  The Foundation aims to inspire the next generation of ocean leaders and scientists by supporting Summer Science in Sanctuary Villages camps, which serve approximately 50 ninth grade students each summer and feature a strong marine science curriculum, field and laboratory studies, and swimming and snorkeling lessons. 


Contact: Chip Weiskotten, Director of Strategic Communications

301.608.3040 x 305.



The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the national non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve America’s maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at