Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

Reefscape in Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary
A diver follows a fish over Gray's Reef. Credit: Greg McFall, NOAA

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is the perfect location for conducting innovative and relevant research that is globally significant. Located just 16 miles from the shores of Georgia, Gray’s Reef is comprised of rocky ledges, limestone rock outcroppings, and sandy flats forming one of the largest live-bottom reefs in the southeastern United States. These extremely diverse habitats attract over 200 species of fish, many of which are commercially and ecologically important yet heavily exploited outside the boundaries of the Sanctuary.

In addition, approximately one-third of the sanctuary is a Research Area that is closed to recreational fishing and diving providing unique opportunities to design and implement research in which critical variables can be controlled over long periods of time. Researchers have the ability to investigate impacts of all manners of fishing on the exploited species as well as habitat, no-take zones on surrounding areas, climate change on benthic communities and associated fish, invasive species, and much more.

In addition to a dynamic system to investigate, GRNMS also has two research vessels equipped with captain, crew, and science divers to facilitate monitoring and research. Most years, the sanctuary has access to NOAA ship time for larger operations that require longer stays at sea. Researchers will also have an opportunity to work with the expertise of our active Science Advisory Group composed of researchers who meet annually to share project results with other scientists and sanctuary staff which allows greater levels of collaboration.