Great Florida Reef

By: Jack Seykora

Overview

The Florida Reef also known as the Great Florida Reef, Florida reefs, Florida Reef Tract and Florida Keys Reef Tract is the only living coral barrier reef in the continental United States. It is the third largest coral barrier reef system in the world after the Great Barrier Reef and the Belize Barrier Reef. It lies a few miles seaward of the Florida Keys is about 4 miles wide and extends 170 mi from Fowey Rocks just east of Solider Key to just south of the Marquesas Keys.

Description

Along the northern extension of the Florida Reef Tract, the reefs generally occur in a series of one to three discontinuous reef lines (terraces) that parallel the shoreline, extending north from Miami-Dade County to Martin County.

Different reef organisms characterize the type of habitats found along Florida reefs, typically transitioning from a cover of algae and small octocorals nearshore to numerous octocorals and varied hard coral populations at the outer reefs. The various reef architectural and compositional components create an environment that is ecologically diverse and productive, one that supports many other aquatic plants and animals that make southeast Florida reefs their home.

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Activities

Rainbow Reef Dive Center $35 per hour

Deep Sea Fishing $30 per hour

Rental of Jet Skis $25 per hour

Boat Tours $18 per hour

Cost

Plane Tickets

American Airlines $327, Delta $275, & United Airways $318


Lodging

Cheeca Lodge & Spa- $243 a night

Sands of Islamorada an Ocean Hotel- $165 per night

Days Inn and Suites Key Islamorada- $195 per night


Restaurants

The Ocean Room

Reef Lounge

Islander and Pelican Bar

Palm Court

Restrictions

  • Gulf of Mexico Federal Regulations - Gulf of Mexico Fishery Management Council
  • Atlantic Federal Regulations - South Atlantic Fishery Management Council
  • Highly Migratory Species - NOAA Fisheries Office
  • Fisheries Management in Federal Water