Divers! Please Help Prevent the Spread of Coral Disease to FGBNMS
Florida’s coral reefs are currently experiencing a multi-year outbreak of a stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) that has now spread over 200 miles across the Florida reef tract, and possibly to several Caribbean locations.
The disease appears to be caused by bacteria, and may be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation, meaning that divers and their gear may potentially spread this disease between sites.
As a result, we are asking divers to make sure they properly disinfect their dive gear before visiting Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, in the hopes of preventing this coral disease from reaching our otherwise healthy reefs.
More information and disinfection protocols
Live Broadcasts from the Reef!
From August 14 – September 1, the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration (GFOE) and its partners will be exploring Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This three-week expedition will use GFOE’s Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Yogi and their satellite capability to explore the biodiversity and connectivity processes of mesophotic coral reefs, while bringing it live to the world through the internet.
For the first time, GFOE will enable the National Marine Sanctuaries’ Research Vessel Manta to have a capability for “telepresence,” which streams ROV video live through the internet, showcasing FGBNMS to the public and other scientists as the dives are taking place. Watch the dives live on the GFOE homepage!
Leg 1: August 14-18
Coral connectivity, biodiversity and connectivity processes on mesophotic coral reefs. Dives scheduled 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Central Time, except last day which will be 8 a.m.-noon.
Leg 2: August 21-25
Mesophotic coral spawning. Dives scheduled 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Central Time, except last day which will be 9 a.m.-noon.
Leg 3: August 28-September 1
Black corals and sponges at mesophotic depths.
Dives scheduled 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Central Time, except last day which will be 8 a.m.-noon.
2019 Sanctuary Advisory Council Meetings
The Sanctuary Advisory Council meets four times a year to discuss topics relevant to sanctuary management. Past minutes and agendas are available on our Meeting Information page.
Thursday, February, 28, 2019
Wednesday, May 15, 2019
Wednesday, September 4, 2019
Thursday, November 7, 2019
These meetings are open to the public, with a public comment period beginning at 1 p.m. If you are interested in making a comment at the meeting, please arrive before 1 p.m. to place your name on the comment sheet.
If you cannot attend in person, please consider following along via webinar. Webinar information and meeting agendas will be posted closer to each meeting date.
For more information, contact Leslie.Clift@noaa.gov
No "Smoking Gun" in 2016 Coral Mortality Event
Although the reefs of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) are normally considered the healthiest in the region, on July 25, 2016, sport divers on the M/V FLING, reported green, hazy water, huge patches of ugly white mats on corals and sponges, and dead animals littering the bottom at East Flower Garden Bank, buoy #4. Sanctuary staff quickly alerted scientists from around the world.
The scientific community mobilized, conducting surveys on the mortality site a week later and the following year. In February 2018, the sanctuary partnered with the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Ocean Observing System (GCOOS) and the U.S. Integrated Ocean Observing System (IOOS) to bring together 40 researchers from different disciplines to discuss possible causes of the mortality event. A new report summarizes their findings.
Coral Mortality Symposium Summary
HI-A-389A Platform Partial Removal Completed
HI-A-389A, a gas production platform located within sanctuary boundaries at East Flower Garden Bank, is no longer visible above the water's surface. Since ceasing production a number of years ago, it was slated for removal. However, based on public opinion, it was decided to leave a portion of the structure in place for fishing and diving.
As of July 25, 2018, the top portion of the structure was removed down to 65 feet below the water's surface. The photo above shows the almost 600-foot long, heavy lift, dynamic positioning vessel NOR GOLIATH lifting the final portion of the upper structure from the water. The lower portion, from 65 to 410 feet, will remain in place as an artificial reef under the Texas Parks and Wildlife Rigs to Reefs program.
The document package below includes background material for this partial removal and the Environmental Assessments pertaining to the development of an artificial reef within the sanctuary. For further information or questions, please contact Emma.Hickerson@noaa.gov
Download Document Package
Mantas of the Flower Garden Banks - Archived Webinar
Manta rays have long been a favorite for divers and a focal species for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. But, what do we really know about them? Joshua Stewart, a NOAA ONMS Nancy Foster Scholar and an Associate Director of The Manta Trust, will present on the latest manta research being conducted in the sanctuary.
If you missed participating in this great webinar on May 17th, no problem. We recorded the full webinar.
Listen in to learn about the manta rays of the Flower Garden Banks: What are they doing in the sanctuary? Why are mantas at FGBNMS so small? What questions about mantas remain to be answered in the Gulf of Mexico?
Note: The first 10 minutes of the recording are mostly silence as we waited for people to finish logging in. We just started the recording a bit early.
Virtual Dive Gallery
Can’t get to your national marine sanctuaries? Thanks to the wonders of 360-degree photography and virtual reality, these underwater treasures are now just a few mouse clicks away.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries has launched a virtual dive gallery, complete with immersive 360-degree views of five national marine sanctuaries including the Flower Garden Banks.
Would you like to receive regular updates about sanctuary news and events? Want to learn more about diving and fishing issues in the Gulf of Mexico? Or perhaps you'd like to know more about volunteer or research opportunities? Maybe education resources?
We have 6 different email lists designed to keep people informed on these sanctuary-related topics. All you have to do is sign up!
Learn more and/or subscribe...
PROPOSED Sanctuary Expansion
Building on more than 30 years of studies and numerous reports released in the last decade calling for additional protections, NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is proposing to expand its boundaries to protect areas of national significance off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana in the Gulf of Mexico. This map shows the preferred alternative for expansion as explained in our Draft Environmental Impact Statement. Learn More...