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Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary staff participate in a variety of outreach events throughout the year.

Below are some of the highlights from community and school events in 2013.

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


Elf from the Shelf
December 2013

Seems we've got our very own Elf FROM the Shelf (continental shelf, that is) come to visit and keep an eye on how we're taking care of the reef.

Elf doll sitting on Christams tree branches holding a candy cane and some images of Christmas tree worms and banded coral shrimp
From Christmas tree worms and peppermint-striped shrimp, to Christmas trees and candy canes, Elf seems quite pleased!
Elf doll sitting with a fish survey scantron form and a fish id book
Elf is now busy completing a REEF fish survey. He's already logged a few of his favorite species
--AngELFish, DamsELFish, and SquirrELFish!
Elf doll holding a fishing pole with the hook dangling into a fish tank housing a small lionfish.
Elf has decided to help tackle an invasive species problem. He obviously doesn't realize that lionfish aren't usually caught with hook and line, although this outreach specimen looks tempted.
Elf doll wearing a paper dive mask sitting next to a Nitrox scuba tank
Elf doesn't need Scuba to visit the reef thanks to special elfin powers, but he realizes that it's an important tool for us. Here he tries on some of our dive gear for size.
Elf doll sitting on the steering wheel of R/V MANTA.
Elf From the Shelf visited R/V MANTA over at the Texas A&M Galveston campus. During the winter, we don't get out to the sanctuary as often, but still take the vessel out for a short run every once in a while.
Elf doll sitting at the winch controls of R/V MANTA with his hand on the Trawl Winch control.
Elf From the Shelf tested the winch controls on R/V MANTA to see if we're keeping everything up to snuff. He also checked the compass to get the right heading for the North Pole on Christmas Eve.
Elf doll holding a foam fish in his lap under a Christmas tree.
Looks like somebody was feeling a bit Elf-fish under the tree on Christmas Eve. Hope he gave Santa a good report!

Poinsettia picture with petals and leaves made from animal and plant images.


Toys for Tots
December 13, 2013

Every December, staff at the NOAA Galveston Lab make some kind of donation to the Galveston community for the holidays. This year, Jamie Park coordinated a collection for the Toys For Tots program.

Four people posing with toys collected and ready to be loaded into a van for Toys for Tots
Generous staff contributed bicycles, games, dolls, toys, and
sporting goods to Toys for Tots this year.

GCFI Conference
November 4-8, 2013

The theme of the 66th GCFI conference was "Natural and Artificial Reef Fisheries, Research, and Conservation," a topic relevant to sanctuary management.

Michelle presenting a lionfish poster
Michelle Johnston presented a poster on invasive lionfish.
A crowd of people in a room displaying scientific posters
The sanctuary presented a total of four different posters at the conference poster session.
Michelle being handed an enveloped in front of a screen that says National Marine Sanctuary Foundation
Michelle Johnston received a grant on behalf of the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation at the Texas State Aquarium while she was attending the conference.
A group of award winners standing in a row in front of a projection screen.
Michelle Johnston, second from left, poses with all of the WCCR grant award winners at Texas State Aquarium.

Conference for the Advancement of Science Teaching (CAST)
November 8, 2013

Every year the Science Teachers Association of Texas (STAT) hosts a statewide conference called CAST. This year's conference was in Houston and the sanctuary was represented at an exhibit booth shared by the Texas Marine Education Association (TMEA) and Sea Turtle Restoration Project (STRP).

Two science teachers dressed as rock and roll guitar players
CAST was developed around a rock and roll theme in 2013, and the science groups hosting booths on Natural Resource Row in the exhibit hall took that theme seriously.

Spud Shark
October 27, 2013

Animal adaptations is a thread that runs through elementary science teaching topics. This is one fun way to talk about how sharks are adapted to their environment.

Check out our other educational activities.

A shark made from a potato. Fins were added using colored paper and toothpicks.
Toothpicks, construction paper, thumb tacks, and markers were used to create this shark. Just imagine the possibilities!

Galveston Appreciation Day at Moody Gardens
October 20, 2013

Once a year, Moody Gardens offers a free day for anyone who lives or works in Galveston. This year, we hosted an informational table in their Aquarium allowing us to introduce the sanctuary to hundreds of people from our local community.

Table top display about FGBNMS
This display of information and images from the sanctuary was located near the Caribbean touch tank area of the Aquarium at Moody Gardens.
A diver wearing a black and yellow wetsuit in the in the Caribbean exhibit at Moody Gardens
Sanctuary volunteers spent some of their time talking to guests in the tunnel and dome of the Caribbean exhibit where divers were feeding the fish.
Hawksbill sea turtle in an aquarium exhibit at Moody Gardens
Near the sanctuary table were several exhibits highlighting sea turtles rehabilitated at the NOAA Galveston Lab. Once their recovery is complete, these animals will be released.
Divers in helmeted diving suits doing a demonstration in the Caribbean exhibit at Moody Gardens.
A local dive club conducted demonstrations with a variety of working diver outfits, including communication helmets allowing them to talk to the guests.

AZA Conference
September 9-12, 2013

The Association of Zoos and Aquariums (AZA) holds an annual conference that provides opportunities for networking and planning on topics related to the care of wildlife. NOAA's National Marine Sanctuaries partner with many AZA facilities to share messages of wonder and concern about our oceans.

Tom Schmid presenting at the AZA Conference
Tom Schmid, President and CEO of the Texas State Aquarium and outgoing Chair of the AZA Board of Directors, welcomed everyone to the conference.
Dr. Ballard giving a presentation at the AZA Conference
Dr. Robert Ballard, ocean explorer, was the key note speaker on the first day of the conference.
A map of the world showing all the deep ocean ridges.
Dr. Ballard highlighted how little we know of our oceans by showing a map of all the topography we have yet to explore.
Display screen image above a Mystery Shipwreck ride
Triotech had a booth in the exhibit hall with a demo version of a new interactive "ride" about the Monterrey Shipwreck exploration undertaken by NOAA Ship OKEANOS EXPLORER in 2012.
Reef scene made entirely from plastic trash
This recycled reef is made entirely of marine debris and is part of a traveling exhibit on the subject.
Fish made entirely from recycle plastic trash
This is a close up of the fish in the recycled reef. Can you identify any of the debris items that were used?
Warthog sculpture made entirely of old flip flops found as trash
These sculptures are part of a conservation effort in Africa. They are made entirely from recycled flip flops found as trash.

JASON Learning in Galveston
August 13, 2013

Teacher and student Argonauts with the JASON Learning program arrived in Galveston August 13, 2013 to board E/V NAUTILUS for a trip to Grand Cayman. But first, they took a brief tour of Pier 21 and the Galveston Strand district.

Group of people standing on a pier in Galveston with an oil rig derrick visible behind them.
The Argo class of 2013 posing on Pier 21 in Galveston, with the Ocean Star Oil Rig Museum in the background.

Shipwreck Exploration
July 19-23, 2013

In April 2012, NOAA Ship OKEANOS EXPLORER took a first look at a shipwreck discovered by Shell Oil while mapping in a deep area south of FGBNMS in the Gulf of Mexico . In July 2013, Dr. Ballard's ship of exploration, E/V NAUTILUS, went back to the site to take a more detailed look and collect artifacts. All of the underwater work was shared live, via the internet. In addition, Texas A&M Galveston set up a command center where scientists and archaeologists were standing by to provide input on the exploration. 63 artifacts were collected during this expedition.

Additional images and video are available on the Nautilus Live website (listed as Shipwreck 15577).

The local ABC affiliate also shared footage and interviewed our own Bill Kiene.

Shipwreck Biology poster by Bill Kiene (2.5MB pdf)

Copper clad hull of a shipwreck in the Gulf of Mexico
This image, captured from the Nautilus Live website during the broadcast, shows the copper clad hull of an early 19th century shipwreck, now being referred to as Monterrey Shipwreck A.

Sea Turtle Celebration
May 29, 2013

Local school Oppe Elementary's Green Team celebrated their success in getting the Kemp's Ridley sea turtle designated as the official sea turtle of Texas. Over the previous seven months, the students wrote a bill, got it submitted for review, testified before the Texas state legislature in Austin, and had the approved bill signed into law by Governor Perry. Way to go kids!

Galveston Mayor and a student reading a proclamation as a small group looks on
Galveston Mayor Lewis Rosen shared a proclamation about the students' accomplishment with the help of several students reading parts aloud.

Group of students and a teacher posing with a large image of a Kemp's Ridley sea turtle
Oppe Elementary's Green Team posed with a Kemp's Ridley photograph donated by local artist Irene Amiet Quiroga for display at the school.
Group of students looking a Fisheries person and another adult holding sea turtles
NOAA Fisheries biologist Ben Higgins showed students a two year old Kemp's Ridley that has been rehabilitated and is ready for release, while Carol Allen held a one year old that will live at the Moody Gardens aquarium for another year before release.
Teacher touching a sea turtle while a Fisheries person holds it on a scale
Teacher Katie Blaser, Green Team sponsor, posed for a picture with the two year old Kemp's Ridley, as did each of the Green Team members.
The right flipper of a sea turtle with a newly attached flipper id tag
The two year old Kemp's Ridley was given two flipper tags and a microchip tag so that she can be identified if she is ever encountered again.
A Kemp's Ridley sea turtle resting on a scale
Then she was weighed.
Fisheries person measuring a sea turtle carapace while another person writes down the information
Then, Ben Higgins showed students how to take a sea turtle's carapace measurement.
Group photo of students, Galveston Mayor, Senator Larry Taylor, Ben Higgins, a sea turtle, and a few teachers
The Green Team posed with Mayor Rosen, Senator Taylor, Ben Higgins, Carol Allen and the two year old Kemp's Ridley before wrapping up their celebration.

Woodstock Visits Oppe Elementary
May 14, 2013

Woodstock, a small lionfish captured in the sanctuary, went for a visit to Oppe Elementary so the students there could learn more about invasive species.

A group of 9 students gathered around a small aquarium housing a lionfish
Members of the Oppe Green Team, a group of environmentally conscious students, posed with Woodstock the lionfish.

Marine Debris Video Premiere
May 13, 2013

Clear Lake High School Aquatic Science teacher Ashley Poloha, a former Down Under, Out Yonder workshop participant, hosted this event for her students to show off their marine debris video projects. Audience members voted on their favorites at the end.

A group of students and their teacher standing as a group in front of a movie theater screen.
Following the video premiere, Ms. Poloha posed for a group photo with her Aquatic Science students.

UTMB Earth Day Celebration
April 26, 2013

University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) is the largest employer in Galveston and also one of the biggest recyclers. Their annual Earth Day celebration includes a Recycled Fashions show as well as an office supply swapping station.

Tabletop sanctuary display focused on trash, lionfish, and coral
This year the sanctuary display focused on marine debris and lionfish threats to the sanctuary.
A play stockade set up for people who don't recycle.
The Non-Recyclers Stockade lent a humorous touch to the event. We didn't see a single person stuck here that day!
A woman dressed as a mermaid in a costume made from recycled CDs
Eco Mermaid paraded a costume made using old CDs as part of the Recycled Fashions show.
A woman dressed as an earth fairy in a costume made from expired surgical gloves
Earth Fairy made her skirt from expired surgical gloves in bold blue and purple colors.

Texas A&M Galveston Specialty Course
April 15, 2013

The sanctuary research team conducted a non-credit specialty course for Texas A&M Galveston (TAMUG) students in April 2013. The focus of the course was to educate students in fish and coral identification techniques used regularly within the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary, enabling these divers to assist the sanctuary research team with data collection.

Student volunteers tested their newly acquired fish surveying skills in the TAMUG swimming pool and in the Caribbean exhibit at Moody Gardens.

A scuba diver in a pool with fish pictures attached to a floating plastic chain in the foreground.
A TAMUG student practices fish survey techniques in the TAMUG pool. The "fish" are laminated pictures attached to floating chains.

Several scuba divers kneeling on the bottom of a pool with fish pictures on plastic floating chains located at random locations around them
TAMUG students practice Bohnsack surveys in which they must identify fish species, sizes, and quantities within a certain distance.

Texas A&M Specimen Collection
March 4-7, 2013

Tom Bright, the Father of the Flower Garden Banks, came to town to examine and verify Flower Garden Banks coral specimens at the Texas A&M collection in College Station and work on a coral ID project with sanctuary staff.

Coral specimens in small boxes inside an open drawer.
Coral specimens in a collection drawer at Texas A&M in College Station. The specimens in the front of the drawer came from Flower Garden and Stetson Banks.
A yellow branching coral specimen with a card explaining its origin
A piece of Madracis coral originally collected at West Flower Garden Bank by Dr. Mary Wicksten.
A pink coral specimen with a card explaining its origin
Another piece of Madracis coral collected at West Flower Garden Bank some time in the past.
Tom Bright photographing a coral skeleton.
Tom Bright trying to get good close-up images of coral skeletons for the coral ID guide he is developing.

National Ocean Sciences Bowl Dolphin Challenge
February 23, 2013

When possible, sanctuary education staff assist with the local NOSB competition. This year Shelley was an assistant coach for the Dawson High School team and Kelly served as a Science Judge and Moderator.

Four students standing under a banner holding a trophy
Dawson High School took home the Sportsmanship Award at this year's Dolphin Challenge.

Sea Turtle Saturday
February 16, 2013

Sea Turtle Saturday is an annual event hosted by the Galveston Island Nature Tourism Bureau. It has been held at the sanctuary offices for the past several years.

People taking seats in a room full of chairs before a presentation.
Sea Turtle Saturday guests begin to take their seats and wait for the presentations to begin.
A boy climbing through a net obstacle.
A boy crawls through a simulated shrimp net with a Turtle Excluder Device (TED) installed as part of a sea turtle obstacle course.
A girl with a backpack ducking through an obstacle outdoors as part of an activity about sea turtles.
Kids make their way through obstacles simulating the hazards that nesting sea turtles face on their way to the beach in the wild.
A girl digging in a bin full of cat litter to bury some pingpong balls.
A participant buries sea turtle eggs (ping pong balls) in a bin full of cat litter as if she were a sea turtle nesting.

Battle of Galveston Setup
January 11, 2013

January 2013 was the 150th anniversary of the Battle of Galveston, a decisive battle in the American Civil War. Events were held at venues throughout Galveston's Historic Strand District. The sanctuary participated in an interactive educational event at the Texas Seaport Museum.

Shelley DuPuy standing next to our new pop-up banner about the USS Hatteras
Shelley DuPuy shows off the new USS Hatteras pop-up banner that will be displayed for the first time at the Battle of Galveston event.
Shipwreck artifacts being set out on a table for an event.
Amy Borgens from the TX Historical Commission talks to guests about shipwreck artifacts as she sets up for the Battle of Galveston event.

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