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Visitors tour NOAA research ship


The NOAA ship Nancy Foster docks in Savannah once a year and gives free tours to the public about their research (Photo: Ian Dembling)
The NOAA ship Nancy Foster docks in Savannah once a year and gives free tours to the public about their research (Photo: Ian Dembling)
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Dozens of visitors Sunday got a chance to see what it was like to live out on the ocean for more than a week.

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) offered free tours aboard one of their ships.

The NOAA ship Nancy Foster only comes to Savannah once a year. Each time, it's after a 10-day research stint out on Gray's Reef. The reef is located just 50 miles off Georgia's coast. During his presidency, Jimmy Carter named the reef a marine sanctuary, the ocean equivalent of a national park.

"There are just 13 national marine sanctuaries and two monuments in that system. One of them is right here in Georgia," said Sarah Fangman, superintendent for Gray's Reef.

Fangman and her team went scuba diving in Gray's Reef last week, and using special technology found exotic marine life in the sanctuary. After their 10-day journey, the captain docked the NOAA ship on River Street so scientists could explain to the public what they've been doing for the past week and a half.

"It's important to get this information, but it's also important that people know this information, and for us to reach out to the community, and say 'hey, this is who we are, this is what we are doing,'" said Jeff Shoup, Lt. Commander for the Nancy Foster.

One visitor says it inspired her to become a research scuba diver herself.

"I pretty much want to do everything I can for the environment, so that means a lot to me. And to be able to be a scuba diver and contribute to the research, that would be amazing," said Taylor Mayer, who is visiting Savannah from Jacksonville.

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For those who missed the tour Sunday, you can always learn about Gray's Reef from the plaques placed all along River Street. There will also be information about the reef during the 14th Annual Gray's Reef Ocean Film Festival in Savannah on February 3rd and 4th.

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