A typical dive at Stetson Bank may begin with crystal blue waters or a murky green layer that gives way to clear waters about 15-20 feet below.
Since Stetson Bank is situated closer to shore (about 70 miles from the coast) it is more often influenced by freshwater input to the Gulf of Mexico, hence the occasional green water.
Don't let this deter you, however. Just follow the mooring line toward the bottom.
As usual, barracuda will be the first to greet you.
Keep descending and you'll catch your first glimpse of Stetson Bank, which is quite different from the coral reefs at East and West Flower Garden Banks. It looks more like a moonscape--open gravelly areas (sand flats) covered in algae, sponges and rocky outcroppings.
Beyond the open sand flats, you see low-level outcroppings dominated by parallel rocky ridges. These are the eroded edges of upthrusted rock layers resulting from salt dome formation. Here at Stetson Bank, there is not as much coral cover so the ridges are right out in the open.
Hiding between the ridges you might find sea urchins, moray eels, sponges or even an octopus or two. Many of the ridges are also covered in an encrusting form of fire coral.
As you continue toward the wall, you see larger and larger outcroppings covered in all kinds of sponges, algae, and the occasional corals.
What you see in the visual tour above is just a snapshot of what lives in the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary. Over the years we've compiled quite a species list of plants and animals within recreational dive limits (down to 130 feet).
While everything you’ll see at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is pretty amazing, there are some events that truly stand out. Click here to learn more about a few extra special natural events you might want to see.