Designated: January 16, 1981
Area: 22 mi²
Sixteen miles east of the Georgia coast between Savannah and Brunswick, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary 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 comes from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and our regional chapter, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation. The Foundation funds the sanctuary’s Team OCEAN volunteer divers, citizen scientists 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.