Photo of fish swimming above a coral reef.

Explore Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary

From beautiful, extensive coral reefs and other marine life to mysterious shipwrecks, take a moment to explore and learn about the many resources that Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects.

coral polyps

Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary protects the third largest living coral barrier reef system in the world. These reefs are intricately tied to our area’s economy, attracting tourists for diving, snorkeling, and other recreational opportunities and providing homes for many commercially important fish species. Take a moment to explore and learn about the biology of corals, about coral reefs, and why reefs are important to the economy. More


closeup seagrass

While it is often the animals – the corals, colorful fish, and other critters – that capture the imagination of visitors to Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, we can’t forget about the plants found in the Keys. Mangroves and seagrass, in particular, play a crucial role in the Florida Keys ecosystem and economy – and are unique, interesting, and beautiful in their own rights. More



The Florida Keys offer a range of habitats, providing homes to a wide range of animals. The approximately 1,700 mangrove-fringed islands of the Keys provide important nursery habitat for commercial fish species, as well as above-water nesting grounds for vibrant bird populations. Expansive seagrass meadows support an array of marine life. And of course, the sanctuary includes the world’s third largest barrier reef, which provides homes to fish and countless other marine life. More



The Ocean and the Seafloor
Did you know that the ocean covers more than 70 percent of our planet and holds nearly 97 percent of Earth’s water? As a chain of islands, the horizon of the Florida Keys is dominated by water, so it’s not hard to believe that the physical and chemical properties of our vast ocean – from the quality of its water to what is happening on the seafloor – play an important role in life in the Florida Keys. More


Washington shipwreck

Whether sunk intentionally or through folly, shipwrecks attract bountiful marine life and are often popular destinations for diving and snorkeling. Historic wrecks hold mystery and tell stories of our nation’s past. Within Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, there are many opportunities for divers and snorkelers to explore the underwater treasures. However, like other resources in the sanctuary, cultural resources are protected. Protection of these maritime resources helps to preserve and further study our historic use of our nation's coastal waters. More



Artificial Reefs
Reefs provide habitat for a wide variety of marine life. In areas such as the Florida Keys, reefs are closely connected to the economy, attracting tourists that use local businesses and supporting fisheries. Sometimes those reefs are natural (coral) reefs and sometimes they are human-made structures placed on the seafloor. More