One of the more positive developments in the past decades has been the establishment of marine sanctuaries within the coastal waters of the US and its territories. The National Marine Sanctuaries Program, administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), was established in 1972 in response to the 1969 oil spill in Santa Barbara, which killed thousands of marine organisms. This spill, perhaps more than any other, galvanized public opinion to protect our coasts and led to the creation of the Marine Protection, Research and Sanctuaries Act of 1972, under which the National Sanctuaries were established.
Today, twelve sanctuaries have been created along the eastern and western coasts of the United States and in American Samoa. The mission of NOAA's Sanctuary Program is "to serve as the trustee for the nation's system of marine protected areas, to conserve, protect, and enhance their biodiversity, ecological integrity and cultural legacy."
Take a half-hour or longer to familiarize yourself with the National Marine Sanctuaries Web Site and at least one Sanctuary. You will be asked a couple questions about the Sanctuary Program in general and a couple questions about one Sanctuary of your choice. Of course, I would hope that you will find these places so inspiring that you will spend more time learning about their treasures and maybe even plan a visit in the near future.
You should read the following:
Welcome to the National Marine Sanctuaries
Sanctuary News (pick one article and read it)
Special Offerings (just check what's happening)
Pick one of these sanctuaries and ask yourself why it has been chosen as a marine sanctuary.
A large map of the sanctuary system can be found here.
Gulf of the Farallones
Hawaiian Islands Humpback Whale Sanctuary
Proposed Thunder Bay (Lake Michigan)