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Former Gray’s Reef Sanctuary Research Vessel Has Second Life as Home to Sea Creatures

January 17, 2008

A former Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary research ship sunk last year off the Georgia coast as an artificial reef is now home to a diverse array of marine fish and invertebrates after only four months on the bottom, according to NOAA scientists.

Jane Yarn attracking fish.
R/V Jane Yarn attracking fish.

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

Researchers diving on the R/V Jane Yarn spotted large numbers of fish such as snappers, tomtates, sheepheads, scad, and sardines visiting the submerged vessel. The team also found soft corals and other invertebrates anchored to the ship.

“It is gratifying to see that fish in great numbers are already using the wreck for shelter,” said Greg McFall, the sanctuary’s research coordinator. “Gray’s Reef scientists will continue to monitor the wreck to track numbers and types of fish that use the habitat.”

The Jane Yarn was sunk in September 2007 at a site off the Georgia coast, outside of the Gray’s Reef sanctuary, by the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (DNR). Since then, researchers have made periodic visits to the site to document the ship’s colonization by fish and other marine creatures.

RV Jane Yarn plaque.
Plaque welded to the roof the R/V Jane Yarn’s wheelhouse .

+ High Resolution (Credit: NOAA)

The vessel, named for Georgia conservationist Jane Yarn, was donated to the DNR for use in its artificial reef program.

Located off the Georgia coast, Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary is one of the largest nearshore live-bottom reefs off the southeastern United States, covering approximately 23 square miles. Loggerhead sea turtles, a threatened species, use Gray’s Reef for foraging and resting. The reef also is near the only known winter calving ground for the highly endangered North Atlantic Right Whale. The sanctuary is managed by the NOAA National Marine Sanctuary Program.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated to enhancing economic security and national safety through the prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and information service delivery for transportation, and by providing environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources. Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems (GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70 countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts, and protects.