New Sanctuary Explorer App Enhances Visitor Experience and Protects Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary

Find more info and download links at

Key West, Fla. – September 19, 2022 – The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation released a free mobile app to enhance the visitor experience in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary and protect sensitive sanctuary resources. It can be downloaded from the Apple Store and Google Play Store via links on

The Marine Sanctuary Explorer app, developed by the Foundation and NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries, will help residents and sanctuary visitors do their part to protect the unique Keys environment by promoting responsible recreation and providing information about sanctuary rules and regulations, as well as points of interests. The app highlights points of interest like the famous shipwreck trail and allows visitors to tag destinations by activities such as snorkeling, swimming, fishing or boating. It features animals and habitats commonly found in the Florida Keys and interpretive stories build a learning connection to protecting them.

“Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a vast marine ecosystem, and now its 3,800 square miles can magically fit into the palm of your hand,” said Kris Sarri, president and CEO of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. “Marine Sanctuary Explorer makes the Florida Keys more accessible to visitors while helping them recreate responsibly and protect its resources for future generations.”

Packed with information, Marine Sanctuary Explorer describes the more than 50 marine zones located within the sanctuary with easy-to-read guidelines that communicate activities allowable in each managed area.

“It’s as if a sanctuary team member is riding along with you as a guide,” says Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Superintendent Sarah Fangman. “Users of every experience level will find this tool invaluable for safely exploring the sanctuary’s protected waters, whether they’ve been here for years or planning their first visit.”

Residents and tourists can use the app before, during, and after a sanctuary visit, with features that include:

  • Allowing devices to access locations for customized exploration
  • Using an interactive map to geo-locate current position and points of interest
  • Bookmarking favorite and new points of interest to explore
  • Identifying experienced Blue Star guides who lead sanctuary experiences
  • Browsing a library of resources on animals and habitats specific to the sanctuary
  • Guidelines on how to safely explore the protected waters of the sanctuary
  • Accessing content for viewing offline

“Constituents have been asking us for a solution to navigating our complex set of regulations,” says Fangman. “This app, developed with our partner, the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, is a handy educational tool that will make it easier for locals and visitors to follow sanctuary regulations, therefore protecting the cherished resources that fuel the Keys’ economy.”

Marine Sanctuary Explorer is free to download and available for iOS (Apple) and Android devices through their online app stores. For more information, visit


The National Marine Sanctuary Foundation, established in 2000, is the official non-profit partner of the National Marine Sanctuary System. The Foundation directly supports America’s national marine sanctuaries through our mission to protect species, conserve ecosystems and preserve cultural and maritime heritage. We accomplish our mission through community stewardship and engagement programs, on-the-water conservation projects, public education and outreach programs, and scientific research and exploration. The Foundation fosters innovative projects that are solution-oriented, scalable and transferable, and develop strategic partnerships that promote the conservation and recovery of species and their habitats. Learn more at 

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is one of 16 marine protected areas that make up the National Marine Sanctuary System. Administered by NOAA, a federal agency, and jointly managed with the State of Florida, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects 3,800 square miles of waters surrounding the Florida Keys, from south of Miami westward to encompass the Dry Tortugas, excluding Dry Tortugas National Park. The shoreward boundary of the sanctuary is the mean high-water mark, which means once you set foot in Keys waters, you have entered the sanctuary. Learn more at


Contact: Chip Weiskotten 

Director of Strategic Communications