Marine National Parks: A Closer Look

This week is National Park Week, which means free admission to all 58 National Parks, all week. Often called “our best idea,” National Parks are a source of pride for Americans. President Grant declared Yellowstone the first National Park in 1872 and each park thereafter has been unquestionably great, proof of our foresight, and evidence of the value we place on our wild lands.

We’ve been a bit slower on the uptake for the ocean however. Possibly because it’s not as easy to access and see the grandeur of the underwater world, marine parks lag far behind. The first one was established over a century later, in 1975, at Cape Hatteras, North Carolina. While three percent of US land is allocated to National Parks, marine parks cover less than one percent of US ocean space.

Some National Parks include ocean ecosystems however, like Biscayne in Florida, Acadia in Maine, and Channel Islands, in California. And while establishing a National Park requires an act of congress, literally, you can help get the ball rolling on a marine park in your hometown by writing your city council members.

Here’s to setting aside more of our ocean for marine protections!


Looking northwest from Santa Cruz Island toward Santa Rosa Island in Channel Islands National Park. Photo by Ken Lund, via Flickr.

The Channel Islands and an incredibly unique habitat. The Island Fox lives nowhere else on earth.  Photo by Don Debold via Flickr.

The marine wildlife in the Channel Islands is incredible. Orcas swimming off Santa Rosa Island. Photo by Glenn Allen, NOAA Central Library.



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