Six of 12 core holes drilled at Looe Key Reef (24°37'18"N. 81°24'24"W) by a diver-operated coring device penetrated a spur and groove system. Drilling indicated that: (II the spurs and grooves formed over at least 5 m of carbonate reef sand: (2) the underlying Pleistocene surface is essentially flat and therefore could not control or initiate spacing of spurs or grooves; (3) only the thin seaward ends of spurs are rooted on underlying bedrock: and (4) the interior of the Millepora-encrusted spurs is composed primarily of Acropora palmata. a species no longer abundant on this reef. From the drilling of Looe Key Reef and from other observations along the reef tract, we propose that most shallow spurs and grooves in active coral reef areas of the Caribbean are constructional in origin and not initiated or controlled by bedrock topography. Spurs and grooves in non-coral reef areas adjacent to shorelines, however. are clearly of erosional origin and have a close spacing distinctly different from spurs and grooves known to be of constructional origin. These observations indicate that spurs and grooves in deeper (> 15 m) fore-reef areas off Florida, which have the same geometry as the shoreline features. are erosional in origin and therefore formed on a shoreline during a lower stand of sea level.