Get Into Your Sanctuary

Get Into Your Sanctuary logo alongside a spiny lobster walking across the reef
A spiny lobster leads the way into Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (Photo: G.P. Schmahl/FGBNMS)

Every year NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries runs a Get into Your Sanctuary campaign to raise awareness about the value of our national marine sanctuaries as iconic destinations for responsible recreation. This includes events hosted by each and every site in the National Marine Sanctuary System.

This year, the events take place from July 29 through August 6, 2023. But, we'll be celebrating ways to Get Into Your Sanctuary all summer long...

  • Follow us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram to learn about different recreational activities you can enjoy to immerse yourself in the sanctuary.
  • Tell us about your favorite activities in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary on social media using #GetIntoYour Sanctuary, #ILoveMySanctuary, and #RecreateResponsibly.
  • Show off your own adventures in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary by entering the national photo contest.
  • Earn a badge with the ParkPassport app for your virtual fun or in-person activities.
  • Take the pledge for wildlife. #WildSanctuaries


2023 FGBNMS Event

This year we're teaming up with NOAA's Mesophotic and Deep Benthic Communities Portfolio (part of the Deepwater Horizon Open Ocean Restoration effort) to showcase the deeper, mesophotic habitats off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. Check out all of the details below!

Colorful corals and crinoids on a deep reef in the Gulf of Mexico
Try your hand at piloting an ROV and see if deep sea exploration might be in your future! (Image: NOAA)

Exploring and Restoring Deep Gulf Corals

August 5, 2023
12–2 p.m.

Location: Lasker Community Pool*, 2016 43rd Street, Galveston, TX 77550

Come cool off in the pool as you discover the wonders of the Gulf of Mexico!

  • Learn about corals and fish living in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
  • Swim over the "reefs" for yourself
  • Discover techniques used to explore and restore deepwater corals
  • Try your hand at operating a Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV)!

*The event is free, however there is an admission charge to enter the pool. A day pass for for residents of Galveston is $5 for adults and $4 for kids. Entry for non-residents is $12 for adults and $10 for kids. 

Event Partners: National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, Artist Boat, Urban Strategies, Inc., City of Galveston (Lasker Community Pool).

Questions? Contact us at

Past GIYS Events

Here are a few highlights from past GIYS events:

Two cornhole boards, decorated with colorful sanctuary images, rest on a grassy lawn with beanbags showing the sanctuary and National Marine Sanctuary Foundation logos nearby.

Cheers to 30 Years
June 4 and July 9, 2022

The sanctuary hosted two Cheers to 30 Years events in celebration of the its 30th Anniversary. Both events were held at local beer gardens, where guests were able to sample a sanctuary-themed beer (UnBeREEFable) created by Bakfish Brewing Company. The sanctuary booth at each event featured new games and giveaways for all participants.

Yellow and black angelfish overlaid with a Get Into Your Sanctuary logo and the words Fish ID Fun!

Fish ID Fun
June 29, July 20, July 26, 2022

The sanctuary also offered three separate Fish ID classes, two in-person and one virtual, to help divers better enjoy their diving experiences at the Flower Garden Banks and beyond. Participants learned how to identify different fish families and species common to the sanctuary, played a few rounds of FISH-O, explored fish survey techniques to use on any dive, and received a free REEF Survey Project Starter Kit.

Photo Safari Scavenger Hunt title on an image of a safari person with binoculars looking out between corals to spy overlayed photos of a fish, a crab, a sea turlte, and sea urchins

Photo Safari Scavenger Hunt
June 21-July 26, 2021

Over a period of five weeks we shared ten different clues and invited people to find images from our website that best represented each one. A final bonus clue invited them to find a specific post on our social media. After all submissions were received, we selected our favorites and identified our winners.

The clues we posted were Something Spotted, Something Harmful, Something Squishy, Something Protective, Something Curly, Something Old, Something Venomous or Poisonous, Something Mesophotic, Something Funny, and Something Research-related. The Bonus Clue was Know Before You Go.

Collage of science, diving, research and wildlife images overlaid with the Get Into Your Sanctuary logo

The resulting photos were then used to create an online presentation called Photo Safari Stories on August 5, 2021. We talked about the animals, habitats, and situations that the photos brought to mind, including some funny stories and encounters we've had during the course of our work. A recording of this webinar is available on our Educational Videos page.

Get Into Your Sanctuary logo overlayed on an image of a lionfish with fins flared

Lionfish: From Reef Raiders to Tasty Treats
July 31, 2020

On Friday, July 31, 2020 we partnered with The Kitchen Chick in Galveston, TX to help you Get Into Your Sanctuary in a mouthwatering way. Over 75 people joined us on Facebook for a live event to learn about invasive lionfish and why we are removing them from the sanctuary’s coral reefs. Then, we showed them what a tasty treat they can be, by cooking up the recipe below. As the folks at REEF say, let's Eat ‘Em to Beat ‘Em!

You can still watch the program video on the sanctuary Facebook page, any time.

Get Into Your Sanctuary logo overlayed on an image of Alicia and Michelle presenting a program in front of sanctuary banners

The recipe we cooked was Lionfish Veracruz from The Lionfish Cookbook created by Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) and the result was quite tasty!. If you can’t get lionfish, that’s okay, other flaky, white fish will work too. Some sustainable seafood alternatives include vermilion snapper and golden tilefish. Download a copy of the recipe

A military veteran flyfishing in the sanctuary

Vet Into Your Sanctuary
August 4, 2019

A team of four boats from the Galveston Professional Boatman's Association and volunteers from Project Healing Waters Fly Fishing volunteered their time to take military veterans for a day of fishing in and around Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary on Sunday, August 4, 2019. This was part of the nationally coordinated “Vet Into Your Sanctuary” event hosted by the Office of National Marine Sanctuaries and funded by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation with support from Environmental Defense Fund (EDF).

Three men fishing from a boat

Anglers caught a variety of species on fly rods, including greater amberjack, cobia, strawberry grouper, mangrove snapper, barracuda, and king mackerel. Many of the vets used fly rods and flies they had created themselves.

Boats lined up at the docks behind Sea Star Base Galveston

Get Into Your Sanctuary
May 20, 2018

at Lasker Park Pool in Galveston

On May 20, 2018, Get Into Your Sanctuary Day was held at Lasker Park Pool giving us the opportunity to interact with people who already love being in the water. We set up display and activity tables near the pool where guests could learn about the sanctuary, scuba diving, fishing, sea turtles, and making reusable bags out of t-shirts.

Boats lined up at the docks behind Sea Star Base Galveston

The most popular activity involved identifying and counting laminated fish cutouts that were submerged in the shallow end of the small pool. Kids could dive down and try to identify the fish after viewing a basic fish id board set up nearby.

A boy wearing virtual reality goggles to view the sanctuary as a volunteer stands by to assist.

Get Into Your Sanctuary
August 12, 2017

at Moody Gardens Aquarium

On August 12, 2017 the Aquarium at Moody Gardens hosted Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary for Get Into Your Sanctuary Day once again. This time, our goal was to give everyone a 3D visit to the sanctuary. Virtual Reality goggles allowed visitors to 'see' the sanctuary up close and personal via several different photo sets they could access on their mobile phones.

A woman from Moody Gardens helping a young boy try on a full face dive mask as two women watch nearby.

In addition, Moody Gardens hosted an exhibit of dive gear used in the aquarium and in the sanctuary when their staff helps out with sanctuary research needs. Guests also had the opportunity to visit the aquarium's new Flower Garden Banks aquarium display. Volunteers and staff talked to more than 400 visitors during the event.

A dive club volunteer posing with a small child wearing his scuba gear and a paper dive mask

Get Into Your Sanctuary
June 25, 2016

at Sea Center Texas

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary celebrated it’s second annual Get Into Your Sanctuary Day at Sea Center Texas in Lake Jackson, TX on Saturday, June 25th. About 500 visitors to this Texas Parks & Wildlife facility were treated to a fish scavenger hunt through the aquarium to locate species also found in the sanctuary; scuba gear demonstrations provided by local dive clubs; ocean conservation messages about marine debris and the need to reduce plastics; the sanctuary's Reef on the Road traveling exhibit on display at the aquarium; and, presentations about sanctuary expansion.

A father and child learning about marie debris at a sanctuary display table giving away reusable shopping bags.

Visitors also received a sanctuary themed reusable shopping bag to encourage more eco-friendly shopping practices.

A group of girls in Brownie uniforms wearing paper scuba masks and standing in front of a coral reef mural

Get Into Your Sanctuary
June 27, 2015

at Moody Gardens Aquarium

Since it's not easy to "Get Into" Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, we hosted our first Get Into Your Sanctuary event in the Aquarium at Moody Gardens, where we invited guests to pose in front of a sanctuary mural and interact with the sanctuary's Reef on the Road traveling exhibit.

A woman and a man releasing a sea turtle into the ocean from the back platform of a boat

The same day we took some local guests and volunteers out for a quick trip offshore on R/V MANTA to release some rehabilitated Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtles for NOAA Fisheries. (All sea turtle activities were conducted under appropriate permits.)