Spooner Spotlight: National Marine Sanctuary System

Posted on September 16, 2022

Spooner Spotlight: National Marine Sanctuary System

We are proud to partner with the National Marine Sanctuaries to celebrate their anniversary and honor their incredible work. Learn more about our national marine sanctuaries and their dedication to conservation, research, education, and community engagement.

Like many great ideas, the National Marine Sanctuary System was forged amid disaster. On January 28, 1969, workers drilling a new oil well off the coast of California had a blowout, spilling 3 million gallons of crude oil into the Santa Barbara Channel, blackening popular beaches, and killing thousands of seabirds and countless fish and marine mammals.

President Richard Nixon, who grew up in Southern California, flew in to walk along the tar-ball-lined shores of his home state, channeling public outrage that inspired grassroots environmentalists and their movement for stronger stewardship of the nation’s ocean resources.

Four years later, in 1972, President Nixon signed the legislation forming the foundation of today’s conservation efforts, including the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.  Three years after the ink dried on Nixon’s signature, the underwater resting place of the shipwrecked Civil War ironclad USS Monitor became the first national marine sanctuary in the U.S.

Today, under the umbrella of the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the system has grown into a nationwide network of 15 national marine sanctuaries and two marine national monuments that conserve more than 620,000 square miles of spectacular ocean and Great Lakes waters, an area nearly the size of Alaska.

October 2022 marks the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System.

In honor of the 50th anniversary of the marine sanctuaries, we partnered with the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation to create a commemorative print featuring 15 species of animals that frequent the Hawaiian waters, including humpback whales, green sea turtles, and spinner dolphins.


Pencil sketch (left) and hand painted final artwork (right)


Reyn Spooner Creative Director Doug Burkman discusses the design of this print in a rare interview!


Where did the concept of creating a print inspired by national marine sanctuaries first come from?

The concept for this shirt started with a simple conversation with an employee at NOAA. Allan Tom, former Superintendent, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, reached out to our team in 2020 to chat about the possibility of creating a commemorative shirt for the 50th Anniversary of the Marine Sanctuaries. He saw the shirt we had done for Volcanoes National Park and thought the Marine Sanctuaries could be an exciting subject matter for our design team.

How did your in-house artists research the subject for the print?

For every print we create, there is a significant amount of research done by our team to ensure we accurately depict the subject matter. The research for this was really fun as we were able to dive into NOAA’s photo archive.

Do you have a favorite species featured on the print?

Personally, I have always loved humpback whales. Their sheer size is so incredible, and when you spot them in the waters during winter, it is always so exciting! Over the years, I’ve seen them countless times but am continually mesmerized by their majestic beauty.


National Marine Sanctuaries Launch & Event

Reyn Spooner was proud to partner with NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries with our commemorative Aloha shirt celebrating the 50th anniversary of the National Marine Sanctuary System and supporting the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

We hosted an event at our Ala Moana store to raise money for the foundation. A percentage of proceeds during this event was donated to NOAA Marine Sanctuaries Foundation.

Here are some photos from the event!


Your purchase of this shirt enables Reyn Spooner to support the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and the National Marine Sanctuary System.