Florida has the distinction of being the only state in the continental U.S that has coral reef systems. These marine environments are important breeding grounds for a huge number of local and migratory marine species and provide food and shelter to thousands of others.
They also attract divers, sportsmen, photographers and tourists to the Florida Coast, providing an important economic benefit. The reefs extend from near Stuart, in Martin County, to the Gulf of Mexico.
The largest and most prolific reef system is that located offshore from the Florida Keys. This reef system is the third largest in the world and it extends 150 miles to the Florida Straits. It is an extremely popular dive destination and very well preserved, because most of it is inside of the Florida Keys Marine Sanctuary.
Other artificial reefs can be found on the Florida coast, thanks to the artificial reef initiative which promotes the creation of artificial reefs to shelter aquatic species on the Florida coast and increase the biodiversity and health of the surrounding waters.