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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 1, 2007

CONTACT:
Gail Krueger
Gray's Reef NMS
(912) 598-2397

GRAY'S REEF SANCTUARY HOSTS VOLUNTEER OCEAN CLEAN-UP EVENTS FOR WORLD OCEANS DAY

In honor of World Oceans Day on June 8, NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, Clean Coast — a volunteer organization from Savannah, Ga. — and regional volunteer divers are sponsoring June clean-up events to keep debris and trash out of the marine and coastal environment. Together, the volunteer events make up the “Sweep the Reef, Sweep the Beach World Oceans Day 2007 Clean Up.”

Throughout June, volunteer divers from area scuba clubs will dive in the Gray’s Reef sanctuary to pick up debris from the reef.  The volunteers will receive special training from Gray’s Reef sanctuary staff teaching them how to remove trash from the reef without damaging the soft corals and other invertebrates that live there, and the individual diver who removes the most documented trash during the clean up will receive an award. The most common trash found within the sanctuary is fishing line, fishing gear and beverage cans, according to a study recently completed by Matt Kendall and Laurie Bauer of NOAA’s National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science (NCCOS).

On June 9, Clean Coast will transport volunteers to Wassaw Island National Wildlife Refuge for a beach trash pick up. A representative from Gray’s Reef will speak to the volunteers on the beach. The goal of the joint cleanup efforts is to remind people that trash and debris are damaging to both the marine and coastal environments and to point out that our actions on shore — even well inland — can impact the ocean.

World Oceans Day, June 8, is a special day commemorating the oceans’ important role in life around the world. This international celebration, declared a decade ago at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, continues to help spread awareness of ocean health far and wide every year.

For more information about the ocean clean up, please contact Gray’s Reef sanctuary staff at (912) 598-2345. To volunteer for the Clean Coast clean-up event on June 9, please call (912) 239-9663.

Clean Coast is a Savannah-based grassroots volunteer organization which conducts monthly trash cleanups on Georgia's barrier islands and coastal marshlands, and works to educate the community about the hazards of marine debris and the importance of responsible waste management. 

Designated in 1981, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest nearshore live-bottom reefs in the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The Gray’s Reef 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 known winter calving ground for the highly endangered northern right whale.

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program 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 national marine sanctuaries and one marine national monument that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is celebrating 200 years of science and service to the nation.  From the establishment of the Survey of the Coast in 1807 by Thomas Jefferson to the formation of the Weather Bureau and the Commission of Fish and Fisheries in the 1870s, much of America's scientific heritage is rooted in NOAA. 

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

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