CCA September Meeting

Gray’s Reef Marks 40 Years as National Marine Sanctuary
Courtesy of CCA Skidaway

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary will be the topic of the CCA of Skidaway’s September meeting and seminar on Monday, September 20, at St. Peter’s Church beginning at 7 p.m. The speaker will be Jody Patterson, who was recently appointed as chapter director for the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Georgia is one of the largest near-shore “live-bottom” reefs of the southeastern United States. It is one of 15 marine-protected areas that make up the National Marine Sanctuary System and is governed by the National Marine Sanctuaries Act.

Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary currently is the only protected natural reef area on the continental shelf off the Georgia coast and one of only a few natural marine-protected areas in the ocean between Cape Hatteras, NC and Cape Canaveral, FL. The approximately 22 square mile sanctuary (about 14,000 acres) of Gray’s Reef is just a small part of the U.S. territorial Atlantic Ocean, yet its value as a natural marine habitat is recognized nationally and internationally.

“Live bottom” is a term used to refer to the hard or rocky seafloor that typically supports high numbers of large invertebrates such as sponges, corals, and sea squirts. These spineless creatures thrive in rocky areas, as many are able to attach themselves more firmly to the hard substrate, as compared to sandy or muddy “soft bottom” habitats. Within the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary, there are rocky ledges with sponge and coral live bottom communities, as well as sandy bottom areas that are more typical of the seafloor off the southeastern U.S. coast. The sanctuary also conserves marine life from vibrant sea stars and snapping shrimp to teeming schools of fish, gliding loggerhead sea turtles, and magnificent hammerhead sharks. Gray’s Reef, part of the critical habitat for the endangered North Atlantic right whale, is a popular destination for recreational anglers, boaters, and experienced divers.

Patterson, a longtime ocean conservation advocate, worked with Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary as its events and volunteer coordinator from 2009-2019. She brings a wealth of experience in public engagement and science communication. She will coordinate the chapter’s Southeast regional MATE ROV Competition, an underwater robotics competition and education program, and support the chapter’s biggest fundraising event, the sustainable seafood gala, A Fishy Affair. As chapter director, Patterson will raise funds for education, outreach, and science programs that promote stewardship of Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary and strengthen conservation.

September’s raffle prize will be a mid-weight spinning rod-and-reel combination, suitable for inshore fishing or fishing in The Landings’ lagoons. Raffle tickets can be purchased at the seminar location on the night of the event.

CCA is a nonprofit organization with chapters on the Atlantic, Pacific, and Gulf Coasts. For more information about CCA of Skidaway, call Dave Devore, (330-329-6457). For more information about CCA’s Georgia District, call Tom Rood (912-598-9753). For information about September’s meeting and seminar, call Paulette Hamilton, (610-509-0279).

Pictured left is Jody Patterson, who was recently appointed as chapter director for Gray's Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

This article was originally published by The Landings Association on their website.

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