People connect with national marine sanctuaries in many different ways. For example, a surfer may view a sanctuary as a recreational escape; a fisherman, their livelihood; a vacationing family, part of a tradition; a local, a place for relaxation. To explore this idea further, I set out to hear from those who engage with national marine sanctuaries. My internship with NOAA specifically took me to the five national marine sanctuaries along the West Coast in Washington and California.
At each sanctuary I spoke with fishermen, sanctuary staff, visitors, indigenous people, sanctuary volunteers, and locals to better understand how they feel and identify with the place. Afterwards, I produced an acrylic painting for each sanctuary to summarize and celebrate the species, activities, and emotions mentioned during the conversations. I decided to paint my findings, because art can showcase the ocean’s beauty, as well as capture complex stories, relationships and emotions that are otherwise difficult to express. Here are some overviews of the five sanctuaries I visited. I am still completing some of the paintings. Continue reading