FGBNMS is Ice Land Inspiration

November 4, 2016

For the third year in a row, Galveston Island's Moody Gardens will be showcasing an ice sculpture adventure for the winter holiday season. But, this year is a little different. This year, one of the the inspirations for Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas is Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary!

A skilled team of master ice carvers from China has created an amazing ocean journey using two million pounds of ice. That journey starts with an ice replica of R/V MANTA, the sanctuary's research vessel.

Replica of R/V MANTA carved from ice. the name MANTA is displayed on the side. Also displayed are life rings, and scuba gear all carved from ice. A large Christmas tree made from ice stands on the top deck.
The sanctuary research vessel, R/V MANTA, was the inspiration for the opening display of Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen

The ice-sculpted vessel is big enough that visitors can climb around on the back deck and examine the masterfully carved Scuba gear up close.

Ice replicas of two sets of scuba gear, including tanks, masks, fins, and gloves, arranged on a bench of the ice R/V MANTA. An ice replica of a small winch is also visible on the deck.
Two sets of scuba gear sit ready for use on the back deck of Ice MANTA. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen

Beyond the MANTA, visitors are immersed in a tropical undersea world complete with shipwrecks, treasure, a diver, a submarine and brightly colored marine life, all carved from ice.

A colorful reef scen showing a diver and two treasure chests all carved from ice
A diver checks out a shipwreck, something you will find on many Caribbean reefs, but you won't find in the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen

While the sanctuary was the primary inspiration, there are other Caribbean elements portrayed in the colorful reefscapes of Ice Land. For one thing, the corals of FGBNMS are not as diverse as you might see on other reef sites, so the artists have taken a bit of creative license and added lots of colorful sea fans and large branching corals. But, visitors will be able to identify an array of brightly colored sanctuary reef fishes, sponges, sharks, sea turtles and more.

A colorful reef scene carved from ice. It includes bright red, pink, green and yellow sponges and coral, as well as colorful reef fish and a grouper.
A colorful reef scene with triggerfish, tangs, grouper, coral and sponges all carved from ice. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen

The detail and accuracy of the ice sculptures is absolutely amazing! Visitors knowledgeable about reef life will even be able to identify specific species.

Side by side images of a queen triggerfish. On the left is one sculpted from ice. On the right is a photo of one from the sanctuary.
A Queen Triggerfish depicted in ice and in the sanctuary. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen/Schmahl

At a time when coral reefs around the world have been suffering from extreme heat, it's nice to spotlight their healthy beauty in such a really COOL way!

Yellowtail Snapper sculpted in ice appear to be swimming on a clear ice background with pink corals below.
Yellowtail Snapper cruise over the reef in Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas. Image: FGBNMS/Drinnen

If you get a chance to visit this icy undersea wonderland, be sure to share your experiences on social media using #FGBIceLand and/or #MGIceLand so we can follow along.

Ice Land: A Caribbean Christmas will be open November 12, 2016 through January 8, 2017 at Moody Gardens in Galveston, TX. For more information, visit the Moody Gardens website.