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March 18, 2008

Gail Krueger
(912) 598-2397

NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Opens Public Comment Period on Research Area Concept 

The public is invited to provide input on the creation of a special research area in NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary during a comment period open through April 21. If established, the research area would dedicate a portion of the sanctuary’s waters to scientific investigation and exploration. 

Under the concept, the research area would include the full range of sanctuary habitats within a smaller zone, thereby providing an accurate ecological representation of the sanctuary as a whole. The size and shape of the potential research area will be determined through a public process, and all sanctuary constituents are encouraged to participate and offer their views. 

First introduced in 1999 during the Gray’s Reef sanctuary’s management plan review, the research area concept was included in the final plan in 2006. Further information about the concept and the ongoing public process can be found on the sanctuary’s Web site.

The public can submit comments via e-mail to, by fax to 912-598-2367, or by mail to: NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary,10 Ocean Science Circle, Savannah, Ga. 31411.

Five scheduled public meetings will also provide opportunities for comment. Details about the meetings can be found here.

Designated in 1981, NOAA’s Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest near-shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 23 square miles. 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 North Atlantic right whale.

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 70 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 Web:
NOAA Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

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