Key Largo Existing Management Area

A statue underwater with arms reaching toward the surface
Christ of the Abyss statue is submerged in 25 feet of water off Key Largo. Photo: David Ruck/NOAA

The waters off Key Largo are known for stands of elkhorn and large mounds of star and brain corals. These reefs have served as an example of marine protected areas for decades. In 1960, the state of Florida dedicated the Atlantic waters off Key Largo as John Pennekamp Coral Reef State Park, extending protection from nearshore waters out to the seaward edge of the bank reefs. In 1974, the state sea limit changed to three nautical miles offshore, prompting the federal designation of the Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary in 1975.

When Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary's expanded boundaries and new regulations were implemented in 1997, the area encompassing Key Largo National Marine Sanctuary was zoned as the 146.77-square-mile Key Largo Existing Management Area. Special regulations apply here. Learn more about what activities are allowed in this type of zone.