On 16 November 2015, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary celebrated its 25th anniversary. The large marine reserve, covering 2,900 square nautical miles in front of the Florida Keys, stretches from the Biscayne National Park in Miami in the north to the Dry Tortugas, around 112 kilometres west of Key West in the south. It is a paradise for divers.
In the waters of the Florida Keys lies the third largest living coral barrier reef in the world. The reef is an ideal habitat for more than 6,000 different species of marine plants and animals, offering extensive seagrass beds and coral reefs, as well as shorelines lined by mangrove forests. Every year, about 700,000 divers and snorkelers explore the underwater world of this protected area.
There are many shipwrecks in the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary. Alternatively, divers can choose to explore the wrecks on the sanctuary's Shipwreck Trail. Scattered along the coral reefs, the nine wrecks on the Shipwreck Trail hail from different historic eras.
There are other activities for holidaymakers, such as dolphin watch tours, kayaking, fishing, stand-up paddling, and more.
Established in 1990, the Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary is administered by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association (NOAA) and jointly managed with the State of Florida. It is one of the 14 marine protected areas in the US that comprise the National Marine Sanctuary System.