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Research vessel MANTA underway on a blue sea.

R/V MANTA has been the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary research vessel since June 2008.

This 82-foot, high-speed Teknicraft catamaran is used primarily as a research platform, conducting research and monitoring activities in the waters of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, but mostly within sanctuary boundaries. In addition, the vessel serves as a host for educational field trips and emergency response in and around the sanctuary.

Students launching a CTD carousel from R/V MANTA
Students deploying a CTD carousel

The vessel's A-frame and winch configuration are used for a variety of projects including trawls, CTD casts, sediment sampling, and towing equipment such as side-scan sonar and remotely operated vehicles (ROVs). The wet and dry labs allow on-board processing of samples and data.

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Two men standing near an ROV and its coiled umbilical on the back deck of a boat.
An ROV ready to launch from the back deck of R/V MANTA

Extensive dive operations are supported by onboard facilities and equipment. Berthing, stowage, galley and safety equipment are geared towards multiple day operations with crews of up to ten scientists.

R/V MANTA crew standing on the deck at sunset.
Crew of R/V MANTA (left to right): Captain Justin Blake, Galley Hand Cassidy Brown, First Mate Karol Breuer, Deckhand Matt Day.

Additional Information:

Vessel Specifications

Vessel History (construction, shakedown, dedication)

You may request shiptime by contacting our Vessel Operations Coordinator.

Emergency Contact Form - required from all cruise participants before departure

Safety Awareness Aboard - important safety information for cruise operations


This video shows the R/V MANTA underway during her initial sea trials near Bellingham, WA, in February 2008. (Video Length - 1:18)

R/V MANTA Images 2014-2015

R/V MANTA Images 2013


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R/V MANTA is categorized as SRV-class (Small Research Vessel) within NOAA's fleet of vessels. This means that it is greater than 65 feet in overall length but weighs less than 300 gross tons. To date, it is the largest vessel in this class. Other sanctuary research vessels (R/V) in this class are:

Standard protocol is for SRV-class vessels to be named after seabirds, but Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary sought an exception to this as seabirds are not a notable part of the sanctuary ecosystem. Instead, our vessel is the R/V MANTA, in recognition of the popular and much more representative manta rays residing in the sanctuary.

Learn more about the National Marine Sanctuary Small Boat Program.

Watch a video about the Small Boat Program.

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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.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves