school of fish in background
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Videos of sanctuary Sharks and Rays

Here's some guidance on how to interact appropriately with manta rays when you see them. Remember, sanctuary regulations prohibit you from touching or harassing any rays or sharks.

Poster showing Code of Conduct for Manta Ray Interactions. Photographs: Avoid excess flash photography when photogrphing mantas. Do not point your flash directly into their eyes. If you happen to photograph the spot pattern on the underside of a manta ray, please submit it to to help us learn more. Please look, but do not touch. Touching a manta ray invades their personal space and can disturb their behavior or lead to shorter interaction times. Try to stay 10 feet away from a manta. If a manta approaches you remain still, maintain good buoyancy and let the manta control the interaction. Do not enter cleaning stations. Cleaning stations are important in maintaining the health of manta rays and other fish by removing parasites and cleaning wounds or infections. Be careful not to touch or damage marine life. If you need to hold onto the reef, ensure you are holding on to rock or dead coral.
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All of the following sharks and rays are found within the coral cap region of the sanctuary (0-130 ft, 0-40m deep). Common names are listed, if known.

Common Name Scientific Name

Spotted Eagle Ray
spotted eagle ray

Spotted Eagle Ray (Aetobatus narinari)

Aetobatus narinari


Southern Stingray
Southern stingray (Dasyatis americana)

Southern Stingray (Dasyatis americana)

Dasyatis americana
Roughtail Stingray
Roughtail Stingray (Dasyatis centroura)
Dasyatis centroura

Manta Ray
Threatened Species (2018)
Manta ray (Manta birostris)

top view of a manta ray

Manta birostris


Lesser Devil Ray Mobula hypostoma

Sicklefin Devil Ray
Sicklefin Devil Ray (Mobula tarapacana)

Sicklefin Devil Ray (Mobula tarapacana)

Mobula tarapacana


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Common Name Scientific Name
Sawfish Pristis sp.

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Common Name Scientific Name
Spinner Shark Carcharhinus cf. brevipinna

Silky Shark
Silky shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)

Silky Shark (Carcharhinus falciformis)

Carcharhinus falciformis
Blacktip Shark Carcharhinus cf. limbatus
Bull Shark Carcharhinus leucas
Dusky Shark Carcharhinus obscurus
Caribbean Reef Shark
Caribbean Reef Shark (Carcharhinus perezii)
Carcharhinus perezii

Sandbar/Brown Shark
Sandbar shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)

Sandbar Shark (Carcharhinus plumbeus)

Carcharhinus plumbeus


Tiger Shark
Tiger shark (Galeocerdo cuvier)
Galeocerdo cuvier

Nurse Shark
Nurse shark (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Two Nurse Sharks (Ginglymostoma cirratum)

Ginglymostoma cirratum
Smooth Dogfish Mustelus canis
Gulf Smoothhound Mustelus sinusmexicanus
Whale Shark
Whale shark (Rhincodon typus)
Rhincodon typus
Atlantic Sharpnose Shark Rhizoprionodon terraenovae

Scalloped Hammerhead Shark
Scalloped Hammerhead Shark (Sphyrna lewini)

Sphyrna lewini
Great Hammerhead Shark Sphyrna c.f. mokarran
Atlantic Angel Shark Squatina dumeril

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Early work on elasmobranchs at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary was conducted by Jeffrey N Childs (2001), a graduate student from Texas A&M University.

Download a List of Cartilaginous Fish Species (68kb pdf) found in the coral cap region of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Small, knobby corals in foreground; boulder of brain coral in background.  Long, fingery branches of purple sponge anchored in knobby corals and standing upright.
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