Today marks a historic moment as we celebrate the very first National Marine Sanctuary Day. This day is a nationwide celebration of our protected marine environments in the oceans and Great Lakes, which safeguard America’s maritime and ecological heritage. National marine sanctuaries serve as a vital response to the pressing challenges of our time, including climate change, biodiversity loss, and systemic inequity. They are not only essential for ecological protection and restoration but also contribute to sustainable economic development in coastal communities. Most importantly, these sanctuaries belong to all of us, offering increased access to nature and its myriad benefits.
The establishment of National Marine Sanctuary Day launches a campaign of sanctuary stories that inspire innovative solutions. These stories come from voices united by their connection to sanctuaries, where they’ve discovered shared maritime heritage, embarked on scientific pursuits, found their livelihoods, and glimpsed the future. Coastal communities and local economies share stories of discovery, enjoyment, and lifelong connections with these remarkable places. The tales woven throughout the National Marine Sanctuary System illustrate that conservation, economic prosperity, and human well-being are deeply intertwined in our national character.
Our nation’s waters have a unique ability to bring us together, and our national marine sanctuaries are the storytellers. On this National Marine Sanctuary Day, we invite you to join us in celebrating these stories.
At Moody Gardens, we are proud to collaborate with the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary through our Aquarium-Sanctuary Partnership for America’s Keystone Wildlife. This partnership aligns our conservation-education messaging and field conservation efforts, amplifying the incredible work undertaken by the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary team. The most recent expansion of the sanctuary’s protection to encompass an additional 14 banks and their diverse biological systems continues to be cause for excitement. We anticipate years of collaborative projects between our aquarium and the sanctuary, all in the service of preserving these natural resource treasures. Moody Gardens’ dive operations will continue to support our Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary partners as we explore new undersea habitats and work diligently to protect the ecosystem. We look forward to continuing to share the discoveries from our own backyard sanctuary with our millions of visitors here in Galveston.
Today’s celebration is particularly significant as it coincides with the anniversary of the Marine Protection, Research, and Sanctuaries Act, enacted by Congress on this day in 1972. This landmark legislation laid the foundation for the creation of a system of underwater parks that now spans over 620,000 square miles of our ocean and Great Lakes.
For over half a century, National Marine Sanctuaries have preserved our nation’s history and provided opportunities for you to create your own memories. Sanctuaries are the crown jewels of marine conservation in the United States. For over 50 years, they have safeguarded species, offered opportunities for research, education, and recreation, and protected our maritime and cultural heritage.
Today, on the inaugural National Marine Sanctuary Day, let’s celebrate these vital institutions that are “of special national significance” for conservation, ecology, history, research, education, culture, archaeology, and natural beauty. Today, we invite you to reflect on what the term “sanctuary” means to you. Share it with us in the comments or post it on social media using the hashtag #NationalMarineSanctuaryDay and help us raise awareness for such institutions doing the most amazing work.
Happy National Marine Sanctuary Day!