Celebrations and Virtual Explorations at Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary

By Michelle Riley, GRNMS

40th Anniversary

January 16 marked the 40th anniversary of Gray’s Reef’s designation as a national marine sanctuary. We invite everyone to share their thoughts about Gray’s Reef throughout 2021 on a Kudoboard set up by Jody Patterson, director of the Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.

The anniversary celebration began with a month-long social media campaign and continued with a proclamation from Savannah Mayor Van Johnson, naming January 16 “Gray’s Reef National Marine Sanctuary Day.”

40th anniversary recognition from Savannah Mayor Van Johnson

Former President Jimmy Carter sent a letter recognizing the anniversary to Office of National Marine Sanctuaries Director John Armor. He also mentioned the other three sanctuaries he designated (Channel Islands, Looe Key, and Point-Reyes Farallon Islands).

President Carter’s letter

The anniversary was covered in print, online, and TV media, and culminated on Feb. 4. with a small Virtual Happy Hour celebration.

Scott Kathey joins the team

Scott Kathey has joined the staff at Gray’s Reef as Resource Protection Specialist. Kathey served as acting superintendent of the sanctuary in 2018.

Scott Kathey Photo Credit: Jody Patterson

Kathey and his wife, Sandy, are natives of Louisiana and have moved to Savannah from Monterey Bay, Calf., where his most recent role was Regulatory/Emergency Response Coordinator for the Monterey Bay National Marine Sanctuary. For more than 28 years, Scott has used a combination of statutory, regulatory, policy, administrative and social tools to prevent and minimize threats to natural resources and processes in multiple national marine sanctuaries. He has collaborated with government partners, NGOs and the public to improve stewardship of protected marine resources. Scott succeeds and expands the role of Becky Shortland, who retired in December 2019 after 20 years at Gray’s Reef.

Gray’s Reef introduces multimedia galleries to exhibits

Sanctuary supporters are familiar with Gray’s Reef kiosks found at museums, aquaria and visitor centers that enable guests to explore the sanctuary from land. Starting this year, Gray’s Reef will replace the kiosks with large, touch screen, multimedia galleries showcasing 360-degree photos and videos of the sanctuary, sanctuary sounds, an interactive ecosystem and games.

Illustration of Gray’s Reef’s new touch screen, multimedia gallery

The multimedia galleries will allow for guided tours and lessons about the wonders of Gray’s Reef.

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