The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is a protected area that encompasses approximately 2,900 square nautical miles of marine and coastal waters surrounding the Florida Keys. The sanctuary is home to a diverse array of marine life, including more than 6,000 species of fish, invertebrates, and plants. It is also an important habitat for threatened and endangered species, such as the green turtle, hawksbill turtle, and West Indian manatee.
The Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary was established in 1990 to protect the unique and fragile marine ecosystems of the Florida Keys. It is managed by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), and its goal is to preserve the area’s natural resources and biodiversity, while also allowing for compatible human use. This includes activities such as fishing, boating, and diving, as well as research and education programs.
The sanctuary is divided into four zones, each with its own set of regulations designed to protect the area’s natural resources. These zones include the Ecological Reserve, the Special Management Area, the Research-Only Area, and the General Use Area. The sanctuary is also home to a number of shipwrecks, which are protected as part of the sanctuary’s cultural resources.