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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
NOAA 04 - R429
March 25, 2004

CONTACT:

Gail Krueger
Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
(912) 598-2397

GRAY’S REEF NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY SPONSORS ‘FANTASTIC FISHES’ AWARD IN POPULAR SIDEWALK ARTS FESTIVAL

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) will offer a special award for the best underwater marine environment scene drawn for Savannah, Georgia’s popular Sidewalk Arts Festival April 24. The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages the GRNMS.

Each year, hundreds of students, alumni and prospective students of the famous Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD) create chalk drawings on the sidewalks around historic Forsyth Park during the one-day festival. The colorful event draws thousands of visitors to the park to view the ephemeral masterpieces.

This year, GRNMS has created a “Gray’s Reef Fantastic Fishes Award” for the most imaginative chalk interpretation of the marine environment. GRNMS Manager Reed Bohne will judge the underwater scenes. The winning image, along with the other Fantastic Fishes Award entries, will be posted on the sanctuary’s Web site and may be used to create a special poster following the festival.

“We are always searching for new ways to engage the public and to share the wonders of Gray’s Reef with the community,” said Bohne. “The Fantastic Fishes Award helps us build new partnerships with young creative students while drawing the public’s attention to the sanctuary in a new way.”

Designated in 1981, GRNMS is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. GRNMS consists of a series of sandstone outcroppings and ledges up to ten feet in height, in a predominantly sandy, flat-bottomed sea floor. The live bottom and ledge habitat support an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, also use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting, and the reef is within the known winter calving ground for the highly endangered Northern Right Whale.

For more information on the SCAD Sidewalks Art Festival, see the college’s Web site at http://www.scad.edu/saf. Gray’s Reef is not accepting entries for the chalk art contest.

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’s National Ocean Service - http://oceanservice.noaa.gov
National Marine Sanctuary Program - http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary - http://www.graysreef.noaa.gov

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