It’s World Oceans Day – a time for people to spotlight the importance of oceans, which connects us all on our blue planet. Located halfway between Hawai‘i and American Samoa, Palmyra Atoll National Wildlife Refuge is a circular string of about 26 islets nestled among several lagoons and encircled by 15,000 acres of shallow turquoise reefs and deep blue submerged reefs. Palmyra Atoll is one of six refuges in the area that provide a safe haven for millions of birds and marine life that feed, mate and give life to their offspring in the shallow waters nearby.
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Photo by Kydd Pollock, U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Great White Heron National Wildlife Refuge in Florida is a haven for great white herons, migratory birds and other fascinating wildlife. The refuge consists of almost 200,000 acres of open water and scattered islands, and is known in the Keys as the “backcountry.” The refuge provides critical nesting, feeding and resting areas for hundreds of species of birds and sea turtles. The beaches, mangroves and sparkling blue water are favorites for the visitors who explore this beautiful and fragile place. Photo by U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service.
Colorful and bold, the sandstone cliffs at Pictured Rocks National Lakeshore in Michigan tower 50-200 feet directly above the dynamic waters of Lake Superior. Wind and water carved the stone into unique shapes. Chapel Rock is a favorite destination for visitors, who enjoy the nearby beach and taking photos of this interesting formation topped by a tree. Photo by Viktor Posnov (www.sharetheexperience.org).
Crater Lake National Park in Oregon is not only one of the most beautiful places in the country but also one of the snowiest. Park staff work hard to keep the road to the Rim Village open year round, but all of Rim Drive won’t be open for months. Free guided snowshoe walks will continue through the end of April and cross country skis are recommended for those who want to explore the park off plowed roads. With views like this, how can you not want to see more? Photo by Eric Valentine (www.sharetheexperience.org).
We can’t get enough of the National Park of American Samoa. Like an emerald set in an ocean of aquamarine, this jewel of a park welcomes visitors to a world of sights, sounds and experiences unlike any other national park in the United States. You can celebrate Samoan culture, spot exotic birds, snorkel in clear ocean waters and hike up into the lush mountains for unforgettable views. And after all that, you can just lay on the perfect white sand beach. Photo by National Park Service.