Maps and Tools

Technology drives our understanding of the environment, and when data is converted into graphical renderings, our ability to understand grows exponentially. The sanctuary utilizes maps and data tools to inform management decisions, comparing findings over time.

Benthic Habitats

An aerial view of a reef with bright colors overlaid.
This map of Looe Key uses color to illustrate various features of the reef, and white lines indicating the path of a data collection plan. Image: NOAA

Mapping of benthic — or seafloor — habitats help sanctuary managers develop strategies to balance the use and protection of those habitats. The Unified Florida Reef Tract Map provides a consistent framework for management, monitoring, and characterization of Florida's Coral Reef from Martin County to the Dry Tortugas. Learn more about how the detailed classification scheme integrates multiple mapping and monitoring projects at The Unified Florida Reef Tract Website, or, view the map online.


Divers floating on the surface with red and yellow buoys
Sanctuary divers are deploying data buoys at all seven Mission: Iconic Reefs sites. Photo: Ben Edmonds/NOAA

Scientists need real-time information to make real-time decisions. On each of the seven Mission: Iconic Reefs sites in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, SOFAR buoys have been deployed to collect essential oceanographic data on waves, wind, sea surface temperature, and barometric pressure. The information is available to the public, and restoration managers will use the data to inform decisions about outplanting activities.