Marine Sanctuary

If you are in search of some below-the-surface excitement, look no further than Navarre Beach. Beachgoers can enjoy the tantalizing turquoise water from above and below at an attraction that’s good for the environment and the economy. Underwater and just off the coastline, the Navarre Beach Marine Sanctuary has things going, and growing on the artificial snorkel reef. The plant and animal life is growing as you read this, attracting fascinating fish and colorful marine life to Navarre Beach. There are three snorkel reef sites, two in the Santa Rosa Sound and one in the Gulf of Mexico, as well as the One Mile Out Reef, which is about a mile offshore in the Gulf of Mexico. The One Mile Out Reef is designed for scuba divers and kayak fishermen. As the reefs grow, more plant life and crustaceans grow on top of them and on each other. “The growth continues as more plant life and crustaceans are growing on top of the reefs and on top of each other. Because of that more of the animal life comes to feed because it’s an easy source,” according to Mike Sandler with the Navarre Chamber Foundation. The Gulf of Mexico provides a much wider variety of sea life and vegetation than in the sound. The reefs offer a colorful kaleidoscope for viewing and attract marine life including sea turtles, octopi and juvenile and adult fish like snapper, blennies, damselfish, surgeonfish, jacks, porgies and spadefish. In the Santa Rosa Sound, you might spot oysters, which sustain other marine life such as shrimp, crab, sheepshead, redfish, sea trout and red trout. But you don’t have to wear a snorkel or scuba gear to spot some of our most popular marine animals. Depending on the time of year, you’ll see dolphins surfacing just offshore and, occasionally, manatees slowing cruising under the surface. The Navarre Beach Marine Park is free to the public and open from sunrise to sunset. For more information about the Sanctuary visit www.navarrebeachmarinesanctuary.org

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