Facilitating Science
Florida Keys

scientist divers doing research
Law enforcement boat in Florida Keys. Credit: NOAA

There are several resources available to researchers at the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Please contact the Research Coordinator for discussions on facilitating research within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.

Acting Research Coordinator: Beth Dieveney



Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary has a small fleet of vessels it uses to support and implement resource management, including law enforcement, mooring buoy maintenance, education and outreach, and long-term ecosystem monitoring. These vessels range in size from 15ft to > 40ft LOA, and have varying capabilities and duration. Contact the Research Coordinator to discuss opportunities for collaborative research and potential vessel use.


Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary regulations provide for temporary permitting of prohibited activities that further beneficial research and monitoring of sanctuary resources. Such activities are reviewed on a case-by-case basis. Permit requests are evaluated based on their potential single and cumulative impacts to sanctuary resources versus the potential benefits the activity may provide in terms of resource protection. Permitted activities are typically research or education oriented.

A permit is required when an individual wishes to conduct an activity within a sanctuary that is otherwise prohibited. Refer to our Frequently Asked Questions to help determine if a permit is required for your proposed activity. Guidance on how to apply for a sanctuary permit can be found on this page.

The ONMS has the authority to issue permits to allow some types of activities that are otherwise prohibited by sanctuary regulations, but which generally present a public benefit by furthering the management and protection of sanctuary resources. Generally, a permit is required to conduct research within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary.


Divers affiliated with an Organizational Member of the American Academy of Underwater Sciences (AAUS) have reciprocity with NOAA's Diving Program, thus may dive alongside Sanctuary personnel and from NOAA vessels. Please contact the Research Coordinator to learn more about science diving with Sanctuary assets.

Lab Space

The offices of FKNMS are not equipped as laboratories. The Keys Marine Lab on Long Key and Mote Marine Lab on Summerland Key are options for this type of service, and the FKNMS Research Coordinator can contacts to these institutions.


Researchers may be able to organize for accommodation through the Keys Marine Lab, Mote Marine Lab, or the Key Largo Ranger Station of Everglades National Park.

Research Areas

There are several areas within the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary (FKNMS) that researchers should be aware of as they develop research plans. The FKNMS has established Ecological Reserves, Sanctuary Preservation Areas, Wildlife Management Areas, and Special-use areas. To learn more about these marine zones please refer to the FKNMS website. Since marine zones were established in the sanctuary in 1997, researchers have been studying coral reefs, other habitat, and marine life inside the highly protected areas and comparing them to sites outside the zones.

Data Buoys

A network of buoys that collect real-time data on oceanic conditions have been deployed in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Many of these buoys are maintained by the NOAA National Data Buoy Center. Collected parameters include wind speed and direction, wave height, dominant wave period, average wave period, air temperature, water temperature and atmospheric pressure. A listing of these buoys may be accessed from here.

Equipment and Instruments

Though the offices of FKNMS are not equipped as laboratories, requests for equipment or instruments can be made with the Research Coordinator.

Special Considerations

Almost all research that occurs in the Sanctuary will require a permit – please contact the Research and Permit Coordinators no less than 30 days prior to engaging in any research endeavor.

Key Documents

Research Needs

Documents that describe the immediate science needs for critical management issues.

Condition Report

The Condition Report is a summary of the status and trend of sanctuary resources, pressures on those resources, and management responses to the pressures that threaten the marine environment.