Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary NOAA


Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary NOAA
33 E Quay Rd
Key West, FL 33040

The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary NOAA is impossible to miss if you've ever gone into the water in the Keys.  The waters of the Marine Sanctuary surround the upper and lower keys and protects the 3rd biggest reef system in the world. Come and explore the underwater shipwrecks, fisheries and seagrass beds that are great for recreational pursuits like fishing, boating, diving, and snorkeling. There are almost 1,700 islands that make up the Keys surrounded on the edges by native mangrove trees. These areas provide habitats for a large array of wildlife including popular fish species and nesting birds. Almost 3,000 nautical miles of water is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State of Florida. They try to assure that all visitors to this spectacular natural wonder use the sanctuary in a responsible and respectful way.  Remember that fishing anywhere within the Keys requires a saltwater fishing liscense.

Families can enjoy the Eco-Discovery Center located in the city of Key West.  It is open Monday through Saturday from 9am to 4pm with free admission. A highlight of the 6,000 square foot center is a walk-through exhibit of the world's only underwater laboratory the Aquarius. The exhibits allow visitors to explore native habitats and a wonderful short film called "Reflections of the Florida Keys" delves into the diverse ecosystems of the Keys. The Living Reef exhibit includes a 2,500 gallon tank full of living coral and colorful tropical fish that allow visitors to get up close with this underwater beauty while staying dry. The onsite gift shop offers unique gifts and books for purchase.  The proceeds from the gift store directly support the center's educational outreach programs.

**Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary is a coral reef that is part of this larger sanctuary**