The US National Marine Sanctuary System was established in 1972. That means the network – which includes 15 national marine sanctuaries and 2 marine national monuments – turns 50 this year. Now, they’ve got a 16-stamp set to celebrate!
This month, the U.S. Postal Service released a new series of Forever stamps that celebrates the rich diversity and beauty within the sanctuaries and the marine ecosystems they protect. The collection commemorates the 50th anniversary of the sanctuary system.
Marine sanctuaries protect the ecological, cultural and historical inheritance of the American people and balance those against their rights to recreate and enjoy these resources. They preserve critical habitat for threatened and endangered wildlife and safeguard the ancients sites and living traditions of Indigenous peoples who have inhabited these regions for millennia. Sanctuaries are also critical in the fight against climate change, to protect biodiversity and to meet the goals of protecting 30 percent of land and sea by 2030.
“The National Marine Sanctuary stamp series is a colorful acknowledgment of our 50th anniversary and a reminder of the beauty, abundance, and diversity of our nation’s most iconic underwater places,” said John Armor, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries. “As these stamps show up in mailboxes across America, we hope they’ll inspire everyone to celebrate, discover, explore, and enjoy the unique wonders of the National Marine Sanctuary System.”
Images include iconic and diverse species such as elkhorn coral, humpback whales, jellyfish and sea otters. These represent the more than 620,000 square miles of marine and Great Lakes waters that make up the sanctuary system – an area nearly the size of Alaska that stretches from the North Atlantic to the South Pacific, and from the Florida Keys to the Pacific Northwest.
Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, which supports the efforts of the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, said: “For half a century, our sanctuaries have protected these treasures for all of us to enjoy, explore, and discover. As we mark the 50th anniversary of the Sanctuary System, we must recommit to saving these spectacular places and protecting their splendor for generations to come.”