The region in which Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) resides is the northwestern Gulf of Mexico. The sanctuary consists of 17 banks scattered along the continental shelf off of Texas and Louisiana, but these are not the only banks in this region. Additional banks extend both east and west of the sanctuary, and several more can be found within the same range as the sanctuary's banks.
The first comprehensive descriptions of these reefs and banks were published by Texas A&M University researchers, Drs. Tom Bright, Richard Rezak, David McGrail, and others, as part of a project funded by the U.S. Department of Interior.
These explorations in the 1970s and 1980s were conducted in response to increased pressures by the oil and gas industry. The findings from these explorations were presented in a book entitled Reefs and Banks of the Gulf of Mexico, published in 1985. In this book, the authors presented the initial zonation scheme for deepwater habitats in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Since 1998, the sanctuary research team has put considerable effort and resources into increasing our knowledge of these reefs and banks. With the help of many partners, we have obtained high-resolution multibeam bathymetry, then groundtruthed the areas to characterize the habitats of key features in the region.
Banks in Brief
Following is a listing of the FGBNMS reefs and banks from west to east. Click on each bank name for more detailed information and images.
Stetson Bank - named for Henry Stetson, a geological oceanographer with Woods Hole Oceanographic Institute (WHOI)
West Flower Garden Bank - named for the colorful reefs that look like undersea gardens
Horseshoe Bank - named by sanctuary staff for its shape
East Flower Garden Bank - named for the colorful reefs that look like undersea gardens
MacNeil Bank - named for F. Stearns MacNeil, a U.S. Geological Survey geologist
Rankin Bank - named for John L. Rankin of Minerals Management Service (now BOEM)
28 Fathom Bank - named for its depth
Bright Bank - named for Thomas Bright, a Texas A&M University marine biologist
Geyer Bank - named for Richard A. Geyer, a Texas A&M University geophysicist
Elvers Bank - named for Douglas J. Elvers, a Minerals Management Service (now BOEM) ngeophysicist
McGrail Bank (formerly 18 Fathom Bank) - named for David W. McGrail, a Texas A&M and U.S. Coast Guard oceanographer
Sonnier Bank (formerly Three Hickey Rocks or Candy Mountain) - named for Farley Sonnier, an offshore wildlife photographer from Louisiana
Bouma Bank - named for Arnold H. Bouma, a Louisiana State University (LSU) geologist
Rezak Bank - named for Richard Rezak, a Texas A&M University oceanographer
Sidner Bank - named for Bruce Sidner, a Texas A&M University geologist
Parker Bank - named for Frances L. Parker, an oceanographer from Scripps Institution of Oceanography
Alderdice Bank - named for Robert Alderdice, founder of the Flower Garden Ocean Research Center (FGORC)