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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 19, 2007

CONTACT:
Gail Krueger
(912) 598-2397

NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY PROGRAM SPONSORS 'FANTASTIC FISHES' AWARD AT POPULAR
SIDEWALK ARTS FESTIVAL

NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is offering awards for the best underwater marine environment scenes for Savannah’s popular Sidewalk Arts Festival on Saturday, April 28.

Each year, hundreds of students, alumni and prospective students of the Savannah College of Art and Design 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, the sanctuary will award a first-, second- and third-place “Gray’s Reef Fantastic Fishes Award” for the most imaginative chalk interpretation of the marine environment by SCAD students.

The winning images in the Sidewalk Arts Festival, 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. The sanctuary will also offer a “best sea creature” award at the SCAD Sand Sculpture Contest on May 4.

“We believe that by participating in these arts events we are reaching people who do not necessarily think about the oceans everyday,’’ said Greg McFall, acting Gray’s Reef sanctuary superintendent. “Making the connection between the oceans and all aspects of life is important to bring our message about the need for ocean stewardship forward.’’

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

Designated in 1981, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest nearshore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 23 square miles. The sanctuary consists of a series of sandstone outcroppings and ledges up to 10 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 near the only known winter calving ground for the highly endangered North Atlantic right whale.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program, which manages the Gray’s Reef sanctuary, seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 sanctuaries and one national marine monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 60 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

On the Internet:
NOAA: http://www.noaa.gov
National Marine Sanctuary Program: http://sanctuaries.noaa.gov
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary: http://graysreef.noaa.gov
Savannah College of Art and Design: http://www.SCAD.edu

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