NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program
As part of a commitment to conservation and education, the Virginia Aquarium is promoting the Alliance of Marine Mammal Parks and Aquarium's partnership with NOAA's National Marine Sanctuary Program. Click here to meet the ocean awareness campaign's spokes-sea lion, Sanctuary Sam.
Chagos Archipelago is the largest marine protected area in the world, totaling more than 210,000 square miles (544,000 square kilometers), an area twice the size of the U.K. The combination of tropical islands, unspoiled coral reefs and adjacent oceanic abyss makes this area comparable in global importance to the Great Barrier Reef or Galapagos Islands. The waters around the Chagos are by far the richest marine ecosystem under U.K. jurisdiction. They have the largest and some of the most diverse undisturbed reefs in the Indian Ocean and are home to the world’s biggest living coral structure – the Great Chagos Bank – with over 220 coral species (almost half the recorded species of the entire Indian Ocean) and more than 1,000 species of reef fish.
As a fully protected marine reserve, all extractive activities, such as industrial fishing and deep sea mining, will be prohibited in the Chagos. This decision will safeguard the rich diversity of marine life found in the area. Learn more about protecting this wonder by clicking here.
Brainwaves on the Beach
On October 30, 2009, the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center and City of Virginia Beach unveiled a new kind of beach experience: Brainwaves at the Beach. The first in the Brainwaves series, located at 16th & Boardwalk, is the Marine Mammals exhibit features two interpretive panels that explain the wildlife off the coast and how human interaction may affect it. A telescope encourages beachgoers to look for dolphins, whales, and any other wildlife they might find along the beach.
Funded by a $16,000 grant from the National Marine Sanctuaries Foundation, Brainwaves is the brainchild of a team that included members of the Virginia Aquarium Foundation, Aquarium staff, the City Department of Public Works, Resort Advisory Commission, Resort Management Office, and the Virginia Beach Hotel Motel Association.
The long-term goal is to have this exhibit serve as a pilot program for a series of as many as ten exhibits along the Boardwalk, each with a theme specific to the area around it.