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Diving Deeper Shorts: Episode 6 (December 2, 2010) - National Marine Sanctuaries

HOST: Today on Diving Deeper Shorts, we will revisit our previous interview on what is a national marine sanctuary, with Dan Basta, Director of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries.  

Let’s listen in.

DAN BASTA: I think your first question that everyone wants to have answered is well, what is a national marine sanctuary exactly? The easiest way to think about it is to think about it as a national park. You could argue that they represent our nation’s parks in the sea, but they’re a little bit different in how they operate and what they do. Unlike parks, national marine sanctuaries do allow multiple use – they’re about finding that very special spot between using our precious resources, understanding and appreciating them, and protecting them at the same time.

HOST: Where are some of the national marine sanctuaries located and how many are there?

DAN BASTA: Well, there are 14 areas – they start out in American Samoa in the far Pacific in Fagatele Bay precede then to the Hawaiian Islands, five hours closer by air, and they’re in the main eight Hawaiian Islands, and we manage the national marine monument in the Northwest Pacific Islands called Papahānaumokuākea, arguably the largest totally marine protected area in the world. On the West Coast of the United States, we have sanctuaries that run from the state of Washington on the Canadian border down to Santa Barbara in Southern California. In the Gulf of Mexico, we have the Flower Garden Banks about a hundred miles off of the Texas/Louisiana border and the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary that encompasses all of the Florida Keys extending out past the Dry Tortugas. Moving up along the East Coast, we have Gray’s Reef off of Georgia, we have the MONITOR Sanctuary which is the resting place of the USS MONITOR, and further north we have the great Stellwagen Bank in Massachusetts Bay. We have a sanctuary in the Great Lakes as well and that is Thunder Bay and it is a totally maritime heritage sanctuary. And in that sanctuary rests the cumulated history of shipping on the Great Lakes – over 200 shipwrecks.

HOST: Is it possible that some of our listeners have visited a sanctuary?

DAN BASTA: Oh, absolutely. Of course it depends upon the site if you will. They are a focal point for a large degree of marine recreation and viewing. The Florida Keys is the number one dive location on Planet Earth. There are, depending upon the year, between two and a half and three and a half million people who visit the Keys. There’s a lot of on-water operation required to ensure that American citizens get an opportunity to experience, appreciate, and resolve to protect these places but at the same time not love them to death.

That’s all for today’s Diving Deeper Shorts, where we highlight a few minutes of your favorite Diving Deeper episodes.

Want to learn more? Go to and select the May 2009 podcast archive to listen to the full interview with Dan Basta on national marine sanctuaries.

You can catch the next episode of Diving Deeper on December 16.