For Students

A child painting a picture of an eel with a shrimp sitting on its head
A student paints a section of a coral reef mural. (Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen)

Want to know more about the cool, colorful, coral reefs of the northern Gulf of Mexico? You’re in the right place! From questions to stump your friends to fun activities that you can download, we've got you covered. You’ll even find links to other NOAA student pages.

Did You Know?

Gulf of Mexico map showing distances from FGBNMS to
nearest coral reefs in Mexico, Cuba and U.S.

Northernmost Reefs in the Continental U.S.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (NMS) contains the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States. The closest coral reefs to FGBNMS are found off the Yucatan Peninsula in Mexico.

Golden Smooth Trunkfish

Golden Smooth Trunkfish

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is one of only two places in the world where you can find the golden phase of the smooth trunkfish. The other place is the Bay Islands of Honduras.

Whale shark swimming toward the camera with a snorkeler swimming above and behind

Magnificent Whale Sharks

Whale sharks, the largest fish in the world, often cruise through Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the summer. Check out this whale shark's size compared to the snorkeler just behind it.


Massive Starlet Coral colony

Huge Coral

Reef-building coral covers about 52% of the sea floor in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Some of the brain and star coral colonies on the reef, like this one, are as big as small cars!

Map of North American showing the watershed for the Gulf of Mexico, which includes parts of Canada, Mexico, Cuba and the U.S.

Large Watershed

Water from 31 of the United States flows into the Gulf of Mexico. That's more than the combined number of states whose water flows into the Atlantic and Pacific Oceans!

Satellite map of North and South America, and Atlantic and Pacific Oceans,
showing the location of sites in the National Marine Sanctuary system

Only Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico

There are 14 sites in the National Marine Sanctuary System, but Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is the only one in the Gulf of Mexico.


Word Puzzles

Two nurse sharks resting on top of coral heads on the reef

Coral Crossword Puzzle

Grades 5-12

Learn about coral reefs and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary by solving 22 crossword puzzle clues. (220kb)

For more information on this topic, please visit our Coral Basics page.

Two groupers facing each other above the reef with a school of smaller fish swimming in the background

Coral Word Search

Grades 5-12

Search and find 32 words about coral reefs and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in a grid of letters. (1.5MB)

For more information on this topic, please visit our Coral Basics page.

A Goldentail Moray eel coming out from behind some coral on the reef.

Zooxanthellae Words

Grades 6-12

How many words can you make using the letters in the word "Zooxanthellae." (77kb)

For more information on this topic, please visit our Coral Basics page.


Activities

Collage of animals found in the shallow reefs of FGBNMS

Critter Collage

Grades K-12

See how many of these reef creatures you can identify in this collage of images from the shallow parts of the sanctuary. Use the answer key to check your work and learn more about these animals. (4.7MB)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

Collage of plants and animals found in the deep reefs of FGBNMS

Critter Collage II

Grades K-12

See how many of these reef creatures you can identify in this collage of images from the deeper parts of the sanctuary. Use the answer key to check your work and learn more about these plants and animals. (1.7MB)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

A creolfish in blotchy coloration resting on the reef at night

Day/Night Wheel

Grades K-2

Cut out and piece together a paper wheel that illustrates which animals are active on the reef during the day and which are active at night. (1.9MB)


Black & white line drawing of reef creatures within a circle with water droplets splashing out the top

Reef Scene Coloring Page

Grades K-12

How many animals can you color and identify in this busy reef scene? (217kb)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

Collage of pictures showing alphabet letter shapes in sanctuary images

Sanctuary Alphabet

Grades 3-12

Search for each alphabet letter shape, from A to Z, in these colorful images from the sanctuary. (8.5MB)

Black & white drawing of a splitting coral polyp

Splitting Polyp Coloring Page

Grades K-12

Color a coral polyp that is splitting in two to clone itself and build a colony. (213kb)

For more information on this topic, please visit our Coral Spawning page.


Holiday Fun

A pyramid of images with 12 at the bottom, then 11 above and so on up to one on top.
Each layer of images shows a different sanctuary species to go with a modified
12 days of Christmas concept listed next to each layer.

12 Days of Fishmas

Use this pyramid of pictures to sing a new version of the 12 Days of Christmas song, from "12 Drums a-Drumming" to a "Parrotfish Under the Sea." (376kb)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

A United States flag image made using red and white fish for the stripes and murex shells for the stars.

Fish of July

A sanctuary version of the U.S. flag made with images of coneys (grouper species) and murexes (sea snails) to help celebrate Independence Day.

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

A trio of beribboned gift boxes with coral spawning,
a queen angelfish and Christmas tree worms pictured along
with a Happy Holidays message

Gifts of the Season

Create your own holiday messages using this trio of colorful gifts highlighting the sanctuary's holiday specialties: snow (coral spawning), angels (angelfish) and Christmas trees (worms). (658kb)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.


A candy corn picture with each color replaced by part of a sanctuary creature iamge in the matching color, 
with a Happy Halloween message.

Halloween Treat

Can you identify the animal images that make up this Candy Corn treat? Clue 1, Clue 2, Clue 3. (745kb)

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.

A red background with a heart-shaped image of the reef in the middle with the phrase Love That Reef

Love That Reef

A reef Valentine to show your love for the ocean and Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, as well as a reminder to treat our reefs kindly.

To learn more about protecting coral reefs, please visit our Reef Etiquette page.

A poinsettia image with some of the red bract and green leaf parts
replaced by sanctuary creature/plant images of the same colors,
with a Happy Holidays message.

Poinsettia Power

Can you tell which sanctuary plants and animals were used to create this holiday greeting?

To learn more about species in the sanctuary, please visit our Species List page.


Link Me Up

A small group of dolphins swimming underwater

National Marine Sanctuaries

Learn about all of our National Marine Sanctuaries, from the Great Lakes to the Gulf of Mexico, and from the Atlantic to the Pacific.

A student in a bright green shirt looking into a microscope

National Marine Sanctuaries For Students

Online games, story books, information on marine careers, activities, free materials and other cool stuff.

Female student cutting open a fish in a lab

NOAA Opportunities For Students

Information and educational opportunities from oceans to weather to space, from all across NOAA.


Yellow and orange brittlestars found during
an ROV exploration

Ocean Explorer

Follow current expeditions, see images of the latest discoveries, read daily logs from scientists, discover cool ocean careers and even Ask an Explorer questions via email.