NOAA 2004-R431
Contact: Ben Sherman
NOAA News Releases 2004
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Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary (GRNMS) has created a new poster spotlighting the fascinating, tiny creatures that live under the sand of the sanctuary floor. Barely visible to the naked eye, when viewed under a microscope these creatures look like the sea monsters of old legends - hence the poster’s name, “Sea Monsters in the Sand.” The U.S. Department of Commerce’s National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) manages Gray’s Reef Sanctuary.

The “Sea Monsters in the Sand” poster was created through a partnership between NOAA’s National Ocean Service, National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science, Center for Coastal Environmental Health and Biomolecular Research, the Skidaway Institute of Oceanography and GRNMS. Sarah Hopfensperger, Cindy Cooksey and Jeff Hyland are the authors.

The poster may be viewed on a companion Web site,, which provides additional insight and information on the tiny creatures. Limited copies of the poster are available from the sanctuary.

In addition, two favorite Gray’s Reef posters have received a makeover and also are again available. The “Invertebrates of the Reef” poster hangs in many classrooms but has been out of print for a long time. It has returned with new taxonomy information on a couple of sanctuary residents. The “Georgia” poster has been revised to show one of the attention-getting species of the sanctuary - the threatened loggerhead sea turtle.

Designated in 1981, GRNMS is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. GRNMS consists of a series of sandstone outcroppings and ledges up to ten feet in height, in a predominantly sandy, flat-bottomed sea floor. The live bottom and ledge habitat support an abundant reef fish and invertebrate community. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, also use Gray’s Reef year-round for foraging and resting, and the reef is within the known winter calving ground for the highly endangered North Atlantic Right Whale.

NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program (NMSP) seeks to increase the public awareness of America’s maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, 13 national marine sanctuaries encompass more than 18,000 square miles of America’s ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA’s National Ocean Service manages the NMSP and is dedicated to exploring, understanding, conserving and restoring the nation’s coasts and oceans. The National Ocean Service balances environmental protection with economic prosperity in fulfilling its mission of promoting safe navigation, supporting coastal communities, sustaining coastal habitats and mitigating coastal hazards.

NOAA is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and providing environmental stewardship of our nation’s coastal and marine resources.

On the Web:


NOAA’s National Ocean Service:

National Marine Sanctuary Program:

Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary:

Sea Monsters in the Sand: