Sea Urchin
Sea Urchin

Photograph courtesy of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary


Map of Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

20 miles (32 kilometers) off the coast of Georgia

Protected Area
23 square miles (60 square kilometers)

Date Designated
January 1981

Calcareous sandstone
Sand-bottom communities
Tropical/temperate reef

Key Species
Northern right whale
Loggerhead sea turtle
Black sea bass
Barrel sponge
Ivory bush coral
Sea whips

Cultural Resources
Potential Paleo-Indian artifacts

Twenty miles (32 kilometers) off the coast of Georgia, beneath 23 square miles (60 square kilometers) of open ocean, lies an underwater tapestry of red branching sponges, sea cucumbers, bright algae, and red, orange, and yellow globular sea squirts. These and other colorful sea creatures carpet the ledges and outcroppings of Gray’s Reef, a sandstone and limestone formation that rests below some 60 feet (18.3 meters) of clear green seawater.

Here tropical fish like purple reef fish, blue angelfish, and barracuda mingle with their brethren from cooler climes. Endangered right whales come to these waters in autumn to calve, and threatened loggerhead sea turtles find safe havens in the reef’s undersea grottoes. Below the shimmering columns of small fish that move through the reef’s sandy-bottomed troughs rest the remains of saber-tooth cats, mastodons, bison, and camels, which roamed this area back when it was primeval wilderness.

For more information,
check out NOAA’s Gray’s Reef profile:

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary
10 Ocean Science Circle
Savannah, GA 31411

Tel: +1 912 598 2345
Fax: +1 912 598 2367
Sanctuary Web site:


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