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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Major Coral Bleaching Event

A broad view of the reef with about half of the coral colonies white from bleaching or paling.
Almost 50% of the reef is bleaching or paling at East Flower Garden Bank.
Image: FGBNMS/Hickerson

On the heels of the mass mortality event in July 2016, the corals of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are now faced with a separate major bleaching event. Sanctuary researchers report that almost 50% of the coral colonies in a study site at East Flower Garden Bank were bleached or paling (in the process of bleaching) as of October 5, 2016.

Sea surface temperatures have been over 30°C (86°F) for 85 days of the past four months, putting the sanctuary in the midst of one of the worst coral bleaching events on record. While the past week has seen temperatures drop slightly to 29°C (84°F), if these warm water conditions continue, the corals may starve and die.

Learn more...

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