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Our 5th annual NOAA Ocean Discovery Day was held March 24, 2012 at the NOAA Galveston Lab.

Staff from NOAA Fisheries, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, PORTS, Sea Grant, and the Texas Marine Mammal Stranding Network showed off their work and entertained guests with activities and information.

Our mural painting activity in 2011 was so popular, we did it again this year. Last year's mural showed the sanctuary's reef caps, while this year's mural showed the deep reefs of the mesophotic zone.

The following pictures highlight activities captured by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary staff throughout the day.

Click on a picture below to see a larger, hi-resolution image
Photo credits: FGBNMS

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Sanctuary Displays & Activities
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An overhead view of the Ball Room at sanctuary headquarters
Information and activities about the sanctuary were displayed throughout the ballroom at sanctuary headquarters.

A volunteer speaking to a visitor at the sanctuary's 20th anniversary display
Volunteer Madison Lee talks to a visitor about 20 things we've learned about Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary since it was designated 20 years ago.
A staff member explaining a map of the northwestern Gulf of Mexico to a visitor
Jennifer Morgan speaks to a visitor about the possibilty of sanctuary expansion to other banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico.
A volunteer speaks to visitors watching the sanctuary highlights video
Volunteer Frank Sager talks to visitors about what they are seeing in the sanctuary highlights video.
A visitor taking a photo of someone posing in a cutout of a deep diving suit
Visitors enjoyed taking pictures of each other posing in a cut-out of a deep diving suit (donated by OceanWorks International). This was one example of the kinds of technology used to explore deeper ocean habitats.
Visitors writing comments on sticky notes to post on a conservation display board
At the Blue Seas Green Communities display, visitors post messages about what they will do to help coral reefs.
A staff member sitting at a table talking to a young visitor about the lionfish on display in a small aquarium
Michelle Johnston talks to a young visitor about the sanctuary's problem with invasive lionfish.
 Two volunteers taking photos of visitors in front of sanctuary backdrops
Volunteers Mary Carrier and Tom Oglin invite visitors to tell the Gulf what they are thankful for then pose for a sanctuary photo. These photos were then posted to the FGBNMS Facebook page.

A person looking through a surveying viewfinder on a tripod
Visitors were invited to take a look through the viewfinder of some surveying equipment at the PORTS and Navigation Response Team's (NRT) display.

A NOAA Corps officer standing next to a display
LT Marc Weekley stands next to information about the NOAA Corps. Marc is a NOAA Corps officer assigned to the sanctuary for three years.
A staff member talks to visitor about the live video feed they are watching
Bill Kiene talks to a visitor about the live video feed they are watching from the NOAA ship Okeanos Explorer in the Gulf of Mexico.
A table full of posters and other handouts
Student volunteers from Austin Middle School Honor Society helped roll posters for guests to take home.

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Fisheries Displays & Activities
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A staff member talks to young visitors about the fish in an aquarium
Shawn Hillen talks to young visitors about fish in a lab aquarium.

A small boat with a lift suspending a round tub over a small pool using a cable
Visitors check out a drop sampling form suspended by a cable from a work boat.

People standing in front of a display showing old black and white photos of Fort Crockett
Jo Williams talks to visitors interested in the history of Fort Crockett.
An open case with a display monitor in the lid and controls in the bottom used to operate an ROV
A compact remotely operated vehicle (ROV) control system complete with video monitor.
Visitors looking at different size conch shells on a display table
Jennifer Doerr talks to visitors about her conch research in the U.S. Virgin Islands.
Several people looking at GIS maps on a wall display
Phil Caldwell talks to guests about GIS mapping techniques used by NOAA Fisheries.

Visitors crowded around tanks displaying sea turtles
The turtle barn is always a popular place to visit on Ocean Discovery Day.

Sea turtle swimming in a tank
Some of NOAA's sea turtles get a bit excited with all the people around...

Baby sea turtle floating in a tub with its front flippers back over its shell
...and others don't seem to even notice that anyone is there.

A visitor snapping a photo of a sea turtle
Visitors take lots of photos at the turtle barn.

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Sanctuary Mural
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click on the > to play

This video shows a timelapse sequence of photos taken during the making of the deep reef mural at Ocean Discovery Day 2012.

Colorful mural of a coral reef made of 162 separate painted canvases
Last year's mural of the coral reef cap was on display as an enticement to get people involved in this year's mural.

A busy room full of people painting at tables and looking at colorful photographs of fish on the wall.
The mural activity room was a busy place during Ocean Discovery Day.
Six plates of paint colors arranged on a table
Plastic plates become colorful paint pallettes for the artists.
A young girl painting corals on a red and orange canvas
A visitor paints corals onto a red and orange canvas.
A crowded room full of people painting
The mural room is always full and busy!

Looking down on a table of people painting their sections of the mural
Visitors have fun with the brilliant colors used to paint the mural.

A crowded table full of people painting
A crowded table full of visitors painting different pieces of the mural.
A woman looking over the shoulder of a young girl and helping her with her painting
Artist Jacqui Stanley helps a young visitor with her painting.
Painted, square canvases sitting on a table to dry
Painted canvases sit drying on a side table before being hung on the wall.

A staff member hanging the first few completed paintings on the mural wall
John Embesi hangs up the first few dry mural squares.
Staff members adding more squares to mural while visitors continue to paint in the foreground
John adds more completed squares to the mural.
Volunteers figuring out which squares need to hang where in the mural
Volunteers assist with placement of different mural pieces.
Staff member adding more painted squares to the mural
John continues to add more squares to the mural.

Closeup view of a marbled grouper in the finished mural, stretched across 6 different squares
A close-up view of a marbled grouper created by artists working on six different squares of the mural.

A close-up view of come corals painted across six different squares of the mural
The colors and details of the mural were interpreted differently by every artist, but together created a wonderful display.

Two people posing in front of the finished mural
Emma Hickerson poses with Jacqui Stanley in front of the original mural at the end of the successful mural painting activity.

Original sanctuary mural created by Jacqui Stanley
Original deep reef mural by artist/educator Jacqui Stanley.
Strings separate it into 162 square sections.
Finished visitor mural created with 162 separate sections.
Finished mural made of 162 separate paintings that correspond
to the squares outlined in string on the original mural.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Juvenile blue tang (fish).  Bright yellow body with irridescent blue marking around eye and at top edge of dorsal fin.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves