Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary Buoy Program



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Every year, thousands of boaters enjoy visiting the Florida Keys to fish and dive. Mooring buoys installed and maintained by Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary make it possible for them to do this without damaging the reef. Buoys are also used to mark areas that have specific regulations, assist with navigation, and provide information.

Mooring buoys, which are 18” in diameter with a blue stripe, have been used in the Keys since 1981 as an alternative to anchoring, which can break and damage the coral reef. There are over 490 mooring buoys available for use within the sanctuary on a first-come, first-served basis at no cost to the boater. Anchoring on living coral within the sanctuary in waters less than 40 feet and when the bottom is visible is prohibited. If no mooring buoy is available and you are outside a no-anchor zone you may anchor in sand.

Other buoys used for marking zones such as Sanctuary Preservation Areas, Ecological Reserves, and Special-use Research Only areas. These buoys are 30” diameter and yellow and have no pick-up lines for you use to tie your vessel up to.

Spar buoys that are cylindrical, tall, and white with orange markings mark Wildlife Management Areas and sites on the Shipwreck Trail.


If you find a lost buoy or notice one missing

If you notice a damaged or missing line, or to report a missing or a found buoy, please call the appropriate sanctuary office. From Key Largo to Marathon, call 305-852-7717. For Marathon through Key West and the Tortugas, call 305-809-4700.