The coastal and offshore waters of Georgia provide a tremendous and varied resource.
With respect to natural resources, commercially important fishes such as snapper and grouper collect along bottom reefs throughout the middle of the shelf waters. Numerous commercial and recreational migratory fish also pass through these waters seasonally, including Spanish mackerel, king mackerel, cobia, wahoo, and dolphin fish. Several migratory species are known to spawn in the offshore waters, often near the Gulf Stream: these include menhaden, bluefish, mackerel, and squid. shrimp fishery provides a large fraction of the total value of the seafood industry. The offshore waters are also the migratory routes of several species of marine turtles, which nest on Georgia beaches; several of these species are threatened throughout their ranges, so the hatching success on Georgia beaches is critical. The extremely endangered North Atlantic right whale, currently thought to number less than 350, uses the shelf waters off Georgia and northeastern Florida during winter as its calving grounds.
The land/ocean interface creates a contiguous boundary along twenty-one peripheral states and is thereby vital for such activities as commerce, resource exploitation, and strategic security. Continental shelf waters, by connecting rivers to the open ocean,
Because of the value of the offshore natural resources, scientific research in the coastal and offshore waters of Georgia has been conducted since the 1970s. Skidaway Institute of Oceanography, located in Savannah, is an autonomous research unit of the University of Georgia. Research activities at the institute are conducted on scales ranging from local economic and environmental issues to global processes and phenomena. In addition, the Skidaway Institute serves regional and statewide educational and management needs for access to marine research facilities. Coastal marshes and nearshore water are studied at the University of Georgia Marine Institute on Sapelo Island.
Media Gallery: Offshore Waters