school of fish behind title Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
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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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Mysterious Mass Mortality Event at East Flower Garden Bank

A white mat of unknown material coats a dying sponge at East Flower Garden Bank during a large-scale mortality event.
Image: FGBNMS/G.P. Schmahl

During the last week of July, sport divers on the M/V FLING, reported green, hazy water and huge patches of ugly white mats on corals and sponges at East Flower Garden Bank, buoy #4.

The boat's captain immediately notified sanctuary researchers, who were just a few hundred yards away, conducting long-term monitoring efforts at buoy #2.

Several potential causes of the outbreak are under investigation, but it's most likely that a combination of stressors is at work. Scientists from around the world are offering advice and assistance in trying to help discover the cause.

Initial Report

Response Update

Investigation Continues

Proposed Sanctuary Expansion

Proposed Sanctuary Expansion written over image of bright orange gorgnians. Links to Proposed Sanctuary Expansion page.

NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is proposing to expand its boundaries to protect additional critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico.

Learn More about the EXPANSION PROPOSAL

Cover image of Draft Environmental Impact StatementThe Draft Environmental Impact Statement (DEIS) lays out five alternatives for expansion. In the preferred alternative, the sanctuary would expand to 383 square miles and include 15 additional reefs and banks.

The public comment period for this document ended August 19. You may still view comments that were submitted by visiting the link below.

REVIEW COMMENTS on Expansion Proposal

The next steps in the expansion process will involve the development of a final Environmental Impact Statement (EIS) and a regulatory package based on the input we received on the DEIS.

A public meeting of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary Advisory Council's Boundary Expansion Subcomittee will take place on Thursday, August 25, 2016, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. at the sanctuary offices located at 4700 Avenue U, Building 216, Galveston.

Sanctuary Advisory Council (SAC) members of this subcommittee will be meeting to review and discuss the sanctuary's proposal for boundary expansion as detailed in the Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Public comment will be accepted. For more information contact

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