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NOAA image of typical debris found at the NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Savannah, Ga.June 8, 2006 In honor of World Oceans Day, June 8, the NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary office and Savannah, Ga., volunteer group Clean Coast are sponsoring three June clean-ups to remove trash from the marine and coastal environment. Together the volunteer events make up the Sweep the Reef, Sweep the Beach World Oceans Day 2006 Clean Up. (Click NOAA image for larger view of typical debris found at the NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Savannah, Ga. Click here for high resolution version. Please credit “NOAA.”)

On June 11 and 25, volunteer divers from area scuba clubs will dive in the sanctuary to pick debris off of the reef. The volunteers will receive special training from Gray's Reef staff to learn how to remove trash from the reef without damaging the soft corals and other invertebrates living there. The most common types of trash found within the sanctuary are fishing line, fishing gear and beverage cans.

On June 24, Clean Coast staff will transport volunteers to Blackbeard Island for a beach trash pick up. A representative from Gray's Reef sanctuary will speak to the volunteers on the beach. The goal of the joint clean-up is to remind people that trash and debris are damaging to both the marine and coastal environments and to point out that our actions on shore—even well inland—impact the ocean. Clean Coast is a Savannah-based grassroots volunteer organization that conducts monthly trash clean-ups on Georgia's barrier islands and coastal marshlands, and works to educate the community about the hazards of marine debris and the importance of responsible waste management.

Volunteers can contact the Gray's Reef sanctuary office at (912) 598-2345 for more information about the underwater clean up or contact Clean Coast at (912) 239-9663 to sign up for the coastal clean up on June 24.

World Oceans Day is a time to remember the life-giving role of oceans worldwide. This international celebration, declared a decade ago at the United Nations Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, has grown from a ripple into a tidal wave of awareness about ocean health.

Designated in 1981, the NOAA Gray's Reef sanctuary is one of the largest near shore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, encompassing approximately 17 square nautical miles. The sanctuary 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 near the known winter calving ground for the highly endangered Northern Right Whale.

The NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program seeks to increase the public awareness of America's marine resources and maritime heritage by conducting scientific research, monitoring, exploration and educational programs. Today, the sanctuary program manages 13 national marine sanctuaries and one coral reef ecosystem reserve that together encompass more than 150,000 square miles of America's ocean and Great Lakes natural and cultural resources.

NOAA, an agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, 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 the nation's coastal and marine resources.

Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, 61 countries and the European Commission to develop a global network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and protects.

Relevant Web Sites
NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary

NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program

NOAA Ocean Service

Media Contact:
Gail Krueger, NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary, (912) 598-2397
(Photo courtesy of Greg McFall of the NOAA Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary in Savannah, Ga.)