Part of Looe Key is designated as "Research Only," an area which protects some of the patch reefs landward of the main reef.
The reef is named after the HMS Looe, which ran into the reef and sank in 1744.
In August 1994, the R/V Columbus Iselin, a research vessel owned by the University of Miami, ran aground on Looe Key and damaged approximately 164 m2 of living coral and a larger area of reef framework. In 1997, the University paid $3.76 million in natural resource damage claims to NOAA. In 1999, a restoration project involving placement of limestone boulders, pouring of concrete, and reintroduction of benthic species was undertaken by NOAA and its subcontractors.
Approximate coordinates: Coordinates:
- Barbara H. Lidz, Christopher D. Reich, and Eugene A. Shinn, Systematic Mapping of Bedrock and Habitats along the Florida Reef Tract—Central Key Largo to Halfmoon Shoal (Gulf of Mexico). USGS Professional Paper 1751. Tile 6, Looe Key
- Franko's Florida Keys Dive & Guide Map
- Benthic Habitat Map
- Columbus Iselin Coral Reef Restoration Project (NOAA), accessed 10 January 2011