Seaside Chats

Seaside Chats graphic overlaid on a sunset over the ocean
Tropical reef fish in algal nodule habitat at Bouma Bank. (Image: FGBNMS/UNCW-UVP)

Seaside Chats is an annual speaker series about ocean science and conservation, which is hosted by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. While the sanctuary and the Gulf of Mexico are our main focus, we occasionally look at what's happening in other national marine sanctuaries, as well. These presentations take place on Wednesday evenings in February, from 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Central Time)

  • Presentations are free and last for one hour. Our speakers include sanctuary staff and guests from partner organizations.
  • Anyone is welcome to attend, but presentation style is most suited to those in middle school and above. Please register for the webinars below.
  • We are happy to provide continuing professional education (CPE) hours for teachers and attendance certificates for all participants.

For more information, contact Kelly.Drinnen@noaa.gov

Seaside Chats 2023

Our 2023 Seaside Chats will be completely virtual. Check back with us for program titles and presenters as we get closer to the dates.

February 1, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Central Time)


February 8, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Central Time)


February 15, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Central Time)


February 22, 6:30-7:30 p.m. (Central Time)


Past Chats

Seaside Chats began in 2012 and have been offered almost every February since. Topics range from sanctuary wildlife, research and expansion, to shipwrecks and ocean exploration.

A brief summary of our previous Seaside Chats is provided below:

Woman holding a coral in a lab setting with an aquarium behind her

2022

Virtual

February 2 - Sex Lives of Corals: From Spawning to Conservation
Corals exhibit some of the most fascinating reproductive behavior in the animal kingdom. This spawning behavior allows coral researchers to better understand coral symbiosis, dispersal, and responses to climate change.
Presented by Sarah Davies, Boston University
Webinar Recording

February 9 - Paradise Lost? Future Fisheries in a Climate-Driven Gulf
Climate change threatens key life support systems on our planet, especially our oceans. With thoughtful interventions, these impacts can be significantly reduced, and perhaps even reversed.
Presented by Sepp Haukebo, Environmental Defense Fund
Webinar Recording

February 16 - Discovering Climate History in Coral Skeletons
The skeletons of massive corals grow in annual layers, similar to tree rings. Scientists can look at these yearly skeletal records to chronicle how the ocean and the coral reef have changed over time.
Presented by Kristine DeLong, Louisiana State University
Webinar Recording

February 23 - How Humpback Whales Feed Hawai'i
Whales boost the entire food chain by shedding their skin, which is made up of proteins and fats, perfect for zooplankton to eat. More zooplankton means more fishes, octopus, and coral.
Presented by Jeannine Rossa, Hawaiian Island Humpback Whale NMS
Webinar Recording

Colorful reef fish swimming in algal nodule habitat

2021

Virtual

February 3 - Mission: Iconic Reefs - An Ambitious Plan to Restore 7 Sites in the Florida Keys
Emergency action is required to change the trajectory of the health of coral reefs in the Keys. NOAA and partners have developed an ambitious approach to restore corals at seven ecologically significant sites in the Florida Keys.
Presented by Sarah Fangman, Sanctuary Superintendent, Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary
Webinar Recording

February 10 - Manta Rays: The Mysterious Giants in our Backyard
An undescribed species of manta ray has been hiding in plain sight in the Atlantic, including at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. What are these rays doing off the coast of Texas? What are scientists learning about this population, and what remains to be discovered?
Presented by Dr. Joshua Stewart, Associate Director, The Manta Trust
Webinar Recording

February 24 - Remarkable Algae in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
The critical importance rhodoliths play in the life cycle of algae has revolutionized preconceived ideas about the ecological importance of this unexplored ecosystem.
Presented by Suzanne Frederiq, Professor of Biology, University of Louisiana at Lafayette
Webinar Recording

Bryozoans growing on a deep reef amid red and green algae

2020

at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

February 5 - Undersea Robotics
Discover how remotely operated vehicles (ROVs) support seafloor research and how technology enhances our capability to capture data from the ocean’s depths.
Presented by Eric Glidden, University of NC Wilmington-Undersea Vehicle Program

February 12 - Mysteries of Black Corals
Find out what we've learned about black corals in the Gulf of Mexico through DNA, structure, and age studies. Hear about sample collection experiences from the live telepresence trip in August 2019.
Presented by Mercer Brugler, NYC College of Technology (CUNY), Black Coral Lab

February 19 - R/V MANTA, 11 Years of Service
Learn how this multi-faceted research vessel has made a difference in ocean exploration and research in the Gulf of Mexico.
Presented by Melissa Trede, Vessel Operations Coordinator, FGBNMS/NOAA Corps

February 26 - What's New in the Blue?
See what FGBNMS staff and associates have been doing in the Gulf of Mexico this past year in terms of research, monitoring, and expansion efforts.
Presented by G.P. Schmahl, Sanctuary Superintendent, FGBNMS

Empty boat slips on the Texas A&M Galveston waterfront

2018

at Texas A&M Galveston, Waterfront Pavilion

February 21 - Corals: More Than Your Garden Variety
Discussion of the differences between various types of coral (hard, soft, octo, black) encountered in explorations in and around the sanctuary.
Presented by Marissa Nuttall, FGBNMS

February 28 - Okeanos Expedition 2017: Surprising Finds in the Gulf of Mexico
Highlights of the interesting discoveries encountered by NOAA's ship for exploration, Okeanos Explorer, during a December 2017 expedition in the Gulf of Mexico.
Presented by Charles Messing, Nova Southeastern University

March 7 - Reef Resilience: Bleaching, Mortality and Hurricanes, Oh My!
Introduction to the consequences of coral bleaching, a mass mortality event, and hurricanes on our precious reefs.
Presented by Dr. Michelle Johnston, FGBNMS

Boats lined up at the docks behind Sea Star Base Galveston

2017

at Sea Star Base Galveston

Webinar recordings available by request. Email flowergarden@noaa.gov.

February 8 - Manta Rays and More!
Introduction to manta rays, whale sharks and other big visitors to the sanctuary.
Presented by Marissa Nuttall, FGBNMS

February 15 - Celebrating 25 Years!
Discussion of the sanctuary's history from its humble beginnings in 1992 to a sanctuary on the verge of expansion in 2017, followed by a tour of R/V MANTA.
Presented by G.P. Schmahl, FGBNMS

February 22 - Reef Romance
Discussion of underwater romance and reproduction on the reef.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

Michelle Johnston holding up a headless lionfish carcass while a student helper holds up the lionfish head

2016

at Sea Star Base Galveston

February 10 - Managing Invasive Lionfish
Discussion of the invasive lionfish problem followed by a lionfish dissection demonstration.
Presented by Dr. Michelle Johnston, FGBNMS

February 17 - Why Do Whales & Dolphins Strand?
Discussion of marine mammal strandings and updates on the recent whale stranding in Galveston, with a marine mammal artifact display.
Presented by Heidi Whitehead, Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network

February 24 - What's News at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary?
Presentation about the latest sanctuary activities and the upcoming proposal for sanctuary expansion, followed by tours of R/V MANTA.
Presented by G.P. Schmahl, FGBNMS

Guests seated in rows of chairs in front of a presentation screen in the lower level of the Moody Gardens Aquarium

2015

at Moody Gardens Aquarium

February 4 - Taking the Reef on the Road
Introduction to the new Reef on the Road Traveling Exhibit, including a visit with the exhibit while it was on display at the Moody Gardens Aquarium.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

February 11 - What's In a Name?
Discussion of ocean exploration around various banks of the northern Gulf of Mexico and the origins of the bank names.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

February 18 - Expanding Sanctuary Horizons
Discussion of the recently released Notice of Intent for Sanctuary Expansion.
Presented by G.P. Schmahl, FGBNMS

Michelle speaking while divers demonstrate in the aquarium exhibit behind her

2014

at Moody Gardens Aquarium

February 5 - What are National Marine Sanctuaries?
Background on the National Marine Sanctuary System and each of the sites within it.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

February 12 - Deep Water Tools & Technology
Discussion of the tools and technology used for exploration in deep areas around the sanctuary, including a display of ROV technology used by NOAA.
Presented by Emma Hickerson, FGBNMS

February 19 - Shallow Water Tools & Technology
Discussion of the tools and technology used along with scuba for exploration in shallow areas around the sanctuary as NOAA divers in the South Pacific exhibit demonstrated the use of those tools.
Presented by Michelle Johnston, FGBNMS

February 26 - Remotely Tracking Sealife
Discussion of techniques and technology used for tracking sharks and rays in the Gulf of Mexico.
Presented by David Wells, Texas A&M University-Galveston

Emma presenting from the front of room where guests are seated in front of a presentation screen

2013

at Texas Seaport Museum

January 30 - Coral Reefs of Texas
Introduction to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

February 6 - Sanctuary Science
Discussion of the various science activities taking place in the sanctuary.
Presented by Emma Hickerson, FGBNMS

February 13 - Expanding Sanctuary Horizons
Discussion of the Sanctuary Expansion Action Plan.
Presented by G.P. Schmahl, FGBNMS

February 20 - Shipwrecks of Galveston
A look at various shipwrecks in the Galveston area, including recent mapping of the USS Hatteras wreck.
Presented by Amy Borgens, Texas Historical Commission

February 27 - Fish Do the Strangest Things
Discussion of unusual behaviors and life cycles of sanctuary fish species.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

Guests seated in chairs throughout the gift shop of Jimmy's on the Pier while Kelly Drinnen speaks

2012

at Galveston Fishing Pier

February 8 - Coral Reefs of Texas
Introduction to Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Presented by Kelly Drinnen, FGBNMS

February 15 - Romance on the Reef
Discussion of the annual mass spawning of corals in the sanctuary.
Presented by Shelley DuPuy, FGBNMS

February 20 - The New Krewe in Town
Discussion of new species in the sanctuary, both good and bad, including the invasive lionfish.
Presented by Dr. Michelle Johnston, FGBNMS

February 27 - A Diver's Eye View
An underwater perspective on the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
Presented by Jesse Cancelmo, diver/photographer

March 7 - Manta Rays, Whale Sharks & Turtles, Oh My!
Discussion of research in the sanctuary focused on manta rays, whale sharks and sea turtles.
Presented by Marissa Nuttall, FGBNMS