Looe Key National Marine Sancturary


Approximately five nautical miles offshore south of Big Pine Key is Looe Key, perhaps the most beautiful reef in the Keys. This reef got its name from the frigate boat, the HMS Looe, which ran aground and sank here in 1744.

Looe Key reef is roughly 200 yards wide and 800 yards long, and is a "spur and groove" reef. Beginning in about six feet of water and extending to about 40 feet at the bottom of the reef, Looe Key is a popular place for diving and snorkeling of all skill levels. The reef abounds with over 150 species of fish including yellowtail, angelfish, parrotfish, barracuda, and moray eel. Spectacular coral formations including staghorn, elkhorn, star, fire and brain corals reside on the reef. There is approximately fifty species of coral present with some having over 7000 years old growth.

In 1981, the Looe Key National Marine Sanctuary was established to protect this popular reef. Spearfishing, shell or fish collecting are not allowed in this sanctuary. While diving or snorkeling, do not touch, sit or stand up on the coral reefs. All life is protected in this sanctuary, so enjoy looking and take pictures to keep what will be an unforgettable experience for you to treasure.