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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOAA 04 - R402
January 15, 2004

CONTACT:

Gail Krueger
Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
(912) 598-2345

SAVANNAH PROCLAIMS JANUARY 16TH AS GRAY’S REEF NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY DAY

A Mayoral Proclamation by the City of Savannah, Ga., has recognized Jan. 16 as Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Day in honor of the 23rd anniversary of the sanctuary’s designation. The U.S. Commerce Department’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages the sanctuary.

The official Mayoral Proclamation, which was signed by then-Mayor Floyd Adams in December, is posted on the sanctuary’s Web site at http://graysreef.noaa.gov, The proclamation recognizes that Gray’s Reef “holds a significant and unique place in the heart of Savannah” and that the sanctuary “is the only federally protected example of the marine environment between North Carolina and the Florida Keys.” Savannah, where the Gray’s Reef Sanctuary’s administrative offices are located, “enjoys economic, health and recreational benefits from its close proximity to the Atlantic Ocean” of which Gray’s Reef is an important part.

“It is an honor to have the city recognize the value and benefit of NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary through this proclamation,” said Greg McFall, Gray’s Reef Sanctuary’s science coordinator. “We look forward to opportunities that further involve the community, through education and outreach efforts, as together we share the future of this national treasure.”

The sanctuary will hold celebratory events at its annual Oceanfest—Savannah’s community-wide festival celebrating all ocean related aspects. Oceanfest is traditionally held in the summer.

Gray’s Reef contains one of the largest near-shore, live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The sanctuary supports an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting. The sanctuary is adjacent to the only known winter calving ground for the endangered northern right whale.

Gray’s Reef was designated in 1981 as the nation’s fourth marine sanctuary. Five years later, its value as a unique bioregion was recognized by the United Nations. The sanctuary is a habitat of particular scientific interest and is an area of great favor to sport fisherman and divers.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

The Commerce Department’s NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web: NOAA - http://www.noaa.gov
NOAA Ocean Service - http://oceanservice.noaa.gov
National Marine Sanctuary Program – http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov
Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary - http://graysreef.noaa.gov


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