school of fish behind title Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
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Close up view of Christmas tree worms protruding from a coral head

Welcome to a very special place...

Picture yourself over 100 miles from land, in the middle of the Gulf of Mexico. At times, the seas can be very unforgiving, and the weather can turn foul in an instant. But here, in the midst of this unpredictable Gulf, lie three of the most beautiful and wild places in all the world. Manta rays, whale sharks, coral heads bigger than cars, hundreds of species of fish and invertebrates... This place teems with life!

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2013 Long-Term
Monitoring Report

Two photos showing a diver taking monitoring photos on the reef

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has just released its 2013 Annual Monitoring Report from East and West Flower Garden Banks. 

The coral reefs of these two banks continue to be healthy and stable after 25 years of  monitoring, when compared to other reefs that have declined in the Caribbean region. However, despite continued coral cover above 50%, macroalgae cover has been increasing since 1999.

Continued monitoring will document long-term changes and will be useful for management decisions and future research focused on the reef communities and the fish populations they support. 

Full Report (26MB pdf)

Report Summary (1.7MB pdf)

Sanctuary Developing Expansion Plan

Sanctuary Expansion Proposal Map
Advisory Council recommendation for sanctuary expansion
(click on map to see larger image)

In February, NOAA's Office of National Marine Sanctuaries announced that it is gathering information and requesting public comments for possible expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

By the end of the public comment period, we had received over 165 comments and held three public meetings. Now the work begins.

The next step is the development of a Draft Environmental Impact Statement that evaluates all of the potential impacts various expansion options would present. Once that is prepared, we will ask for further input from you, the public.

Stay tuned!

Frequently Asked Questions about Sanctuary Expansion

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
4700 Avenue U, Building 216
Galveston, TX 77551
p) 409-621-5151
f) 409-621-1316

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French angelfish in foreground; large boulder corals in background.  French angelfish is dinner plate size oval shaped, blue body with body scales bright yellow on their edges.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves