Seaside Chats is an annual speaker series about ocean science and conservation, hosted by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. All presentations are offered via webinar.
February 1, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (CT)
The Best Job Ever! - Steve Gittings, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
February 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (CT)
Reconstructing the Flower Garden Banks from the Inside Out - Bill Precht, Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc.
February 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (CT)
Exploring a Future Sanctuary - Tom Bright, retired, Texas Sea Grant
February 22, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (CT)
Coral Forensics in the Deep Flower Garden Banks - Luke McCartin, Lehigh University
For more information and webinar registration links, please visit our Seaside Chats page.
2023 Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting
The Sanctuary Advisory Council meets several times a year to discuss topics relevant to sanctuary management. Past minutes and agendas are available on our Meeting Information page.
Hybrid meeting: In-person with webinar option
Thursday, February 2, 2023
9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
In-person: NOAA Galveston Lab Conference Room
4700 Avenue U, Building 305, Galveston, TX 77554
Computer audio recommended.
Audio Only: Call (562) 247-8321, use Audio Access Code 200-027-302
This meeting is open to the public and includes a scheduled public comment period at 1 p.m.
Those wishing to make public comments can sign up at the meeting location or request to speak via the webinar’s chat/question box.
For more information, contact Leslie.Clift@noaa.gov.
Recruiting Advisory Council Members
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is seeking applicants for five (5) seats on its advisory council, a community based group of individuals that provide advice for sanctuary management.
The sanctuary is accepting applications for the following council seats:
Conservation (1 seat)
Education (2 seats)
Recreational Fishing (1 seat)
Research (1 seat)
Deadline for applications is February 10, 2023
Information and Application Materials
Questions? Contact Leslie.Clift@noaa.gov
A Manta For Maite
In May 2022, a senseless tragedy occurred in Uvalde, Texas that claimed the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers. One of those students was an aspiring marine biologist.
Since kindergarten, Maite Yuleana Rodriguez wanted to become a marine biologist, never wavering from her path. At age 10, she dreamed of one day attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to be near the ocean where she could "study animals on land and water."
In an effort to keep her story and her memory alive, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has decided to name one of the sanctuary's manta rays in her memory.
Sanctuary-themed Christmas Tree Brightens Holiday Sea-son!
We're making a splash in Houston for the holidays this year! For the first time, Houston Museum of Natural Science invited us to decorate one of the Christmas trees that grace their spacious lobby each year.
With the theme Down Under, Out Yonder in the Deep Blue Gulf, we tried to bring both the sanctuary's shallow and deep reefs to life. With a combination of ornaments, floral picks, ribbon, and other elements we showcased 22 different sanctuary species, representing algae, cnidarians, annelids, crustaceans, mollusks, echinoderms, bony fish, cartilaginous fish, and reptiles.
You can visit this and all of the other beautiful trees at the Houston Museum of Natural Science through January 2, 2023.
Sanctuary Investigating Recent Coral Disease
NOAA is working to determine whether an unusual coral mortality event observed in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is linked to Stony Coral Tissue Loss Disease (SCTLD), which had not been previously reported in the sanctuary.
On a recent research cruise, divers observed brain and star corals at East and West Flower Garden Banks that appeared to show SCTLD-like symptoms, including lesions and tissue loss.
A rapid response and intervention cruise was initiated with support from the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and research partners from Florida Atlantic University’s Harbor Branch Oceanographic Institute.
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 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 deadly disease from reaching our otherwise healthy reefs.
More information and disinfection protocols
What is a Bank?
When most of us hear the word ‘bank’ we think of financial institutions and money, but banks in the ocean have a different value.
Discover what makes a bank so special, and how banks feature prominently in three different national marine sanctuaries.
Uncover the ocean treasures of Flower Garden Banks, Cordell Bank, and Stellwagen Bank national marine sanctuaries in our new story map...
Fantastic Ocean Places You Can Bank On!
Mooring Buoy Maintenance
Mooring buoys are an important part of our efforts to protect sanctuary resources while still enabling visitor access to the reefs. Anchoring is not allowed in the sanctuary, but vessels up to 100 feet in length can tie off to these surface buoys.
Due to pandemic restrictions on vessel and diving operations in 2020 and 2021, the sanctuary was unable to conduct maintenance on the mooring buoys. As a result, several buoys went missing or were in bad shape. Buoy maintenance has been a priority for us since 2022 and we are working to replace missing or damaged buoys as quickly as our schedule will allow. Occasionally new moorings must be drilled, which takes significantly more time than swapping out damaged or fouled gear, so please bear with us.
PLEASE NOTE: Buoys will periodically be lost as the result of improper vessel usage or severe storms, so they may not all be there when you are. Please plan your trips accordingly.
More Information on Buoys and their Coordinates
On January 19, 2021, NOAA issued the Final Rule for expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. This action protects 14 additional reefs and banks, slightly adjusts the boundaries of the sanctuary's original three banks, and expands the sanctuary from 56 square miles to a total of 160 square miles.
The final rule applies existing sanctuary regulations to all of the new areas, providing protection from the destructive impact of activities related to fishing with bottom-tending gear, ship anchoring, oil and gas exploration and production, and salvage activities on sensitive biological resources.
These areas include critical habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, as well as threatened or endangered species of manta rays, sea turtles, and corals in the Gulf of Mexico.
Scroll down this page to see a story map that will allow you to explore the sanctuary and its surroundings in more detail.
Sanctuary Expansion Information
Virtual Dive Gallery
Can’t get to your national marine sanctuaries? Thanks to the wonders of 360-degree photography, videography, and virtual reality, these underwater treasures are now just a few mouse clicks away.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has launched a virtual dive gallery, complete with immersive 360-degree images of eight national marine sanctuaries including the Flower Garden Banks.
In celebration of World Ocean Day 2020, ONMS has now launched virtual reality voyages using 360-degree videos! Whether you live on a coast or in a community far from the shore, we invite you to experience the power and beauty of America’s underwater treasures.
Along with these videos, lesson plans have been developed for educators to further engage middle school students with the virtual dive experience. These lessons take you deeper into each video and align with leading science standards and ocean literacy principles.
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 opportunities or education resources?
We have 5 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...
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary was expanded from 56 square miles to 160 square miles to protect additional critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico on January 19, 2021. This means that the sanctuary is now made up of 17 different reefs and banks within 19 separate boundaries. You can explore the entire sanctuary and it's surroundings within the story map below.
Learn more about the sanctuary expansion