Sixteen miles east of the Georgia coast between Savannah and Brunswick, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) is one of the largest near-shore live-bottom reefs in the southeastern US. Considered an oasis in that region, its rocky habitat of ledges and seafloor attracts more than 200 species of fish and 400 species of invertebrates.
Gray’s Reef is a popular destination for recreational anglers, boaters and experienced divers. In 2011, the local community designated the southern third of the Sanctuary as a protected area for research only. Activities in this research area are limited in order to study and compare the impact of human activities on sanctuary marine resources and to inform future management and conservation strategies.
Support for many activities come from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and our regional chapter, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. Gray’s Reef NMS participates the Team OCEAN citizen science initiative, and the Foundation funds the Sanctuary’s volunteer divers who provide invaluable research for management and protection of resources. The Foundation also supports the innovative acoustic fish tagging program that tracks previously-unknown movements of grouper and flounder in the area.
The Sanctuary has strong bonds with its local community. Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, launched in 2015, hosts a variety of cultural, entertainment and learning activities with numerous local not-for-profit, business and media partners. The signature annual event is the Gray’s Reef Film Festival, attracting nearly 1500 people for a range of films and related activities.
Related Links :Gray's Reef NMS Website
“Most people don’t think of Georgia as a premier dive destination and they aren’t aware that Gray’s Reef is inhabited by so many large fish and unique invertebrates. The largest king mackerel ever caught in Georgia was reeled in at the Sanctuary in 2004, weighing more than 75 pounds. The fish are very active and swarm divers; they often find themselves caught up in giant schools of scad or tomtate bursting through the water column in a whirlwind. I’m always pleased to hear the exclamations of well-traveled divers who come to Gray’s Reef for research or recreation. Many tell me that Gray’s Reef is one of their favorite diving spots in the world.”