Mooring Buoys

Five mooring buoys and their lines secured against a boat railing
Mooring buoys lined up along the rail of R/V MANTA waiting to be installed. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/FGBNMS

Whether you will be spending a weekend diving or fishing at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, or just stopping by to rest for an evening, please remember that anchoring is not permitted within sanctuary boundaries.

The sanctuary provides mooring buoys at East Flower Garden, West Flower Garden, and Stetson Banks to ensure vessels have a safe way to visit these areas without damaging the fragile reef communities below. 

Overhead view from hundreds of feet above the water showing R/V MANTA moored in the sanctuary and the reefs visible far below.
Using mooring buoys instead of anchors protects the fragile reefs below. Photo: Voss Lab/FAU

Proper Use of Mooring Buoys

Sanctuary mooring buoys are designed for use by vessels up to 100 feet in length. Each buoy is anchored to the sea floor by a long line attached to a large, metal u-bolt cemented into reef rock. A floating pennant line is attached to the top of the buoy to provide a mooring point for vessels.

When using a mooring buoy, it is best to pass a line from the bow of the vessel through the pennant line and back to the vessel to create a bridle. This bridle greatly reduces stress on the mooring, and offers a more comfortable ride for the vessel.

Mooring buoys are available on a first come, first served basis.

R/V MANTA tied up to a buoy in the sanctuary
The sanctuary research vessel, R/V MANTA, properly moored using a bridle. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/FGBNMS

Mooring Design

The mooring design was modeled after those used in Florida Keys National Marine Sanctuary, and modified to be able to accommodate larger vessels in a deeper environment. While these moorings are durable and inspected frequently, improper use can lead to increased damage and frequency of replacement.

In the event you find a damaged mooring when visiting the sanctuary, please notify us at at your earliest convenience.

Note: Mooring buoys are not currently being maintained as a result of restrictions in place due to the corona virus and the sanctuary assumes no liability for use of the buoys. Once normal on-water activities are restored, we will resume buoy maintenance as soon as possible.

Diagram of a typical mooring buoy assembly
Mooring buoys are anchored to the sea floor by large, metal u-bolts cemented into reef rock at appropriate locations. Image: Ryan Eckert/FGBNMS

Mooring Buoy Coordinates

Mooring buoys may be removed for maintenance or disappear during severe storms, so they may not all be there when you are. Please report missing buoys to at your earliest convenience.

Buoy Map for East Flower Garden Bank
Buoy locations at East Flower Garden Bank. Click on the image for a larger view. Credit: FGBNMS
Buoy Coordinates for East Flower Garden Bank
Buoy # Latitude (DD) Longitude (DD) Depth (ft/m)
1 27.909517 -93.597417 64ft / 20m
2 27.9086 -93.597183 63ft / 19m
3 27.9074 -93.59925 65ft / 20m
4 27.908817 -93.599833 61ft / 19m
5 27.909867 -93.599733 70ft / 21m
6 27.91075 -93.599167 65ft / 20m
7 27.909117 -93.598633 63ft / 19m
Buoy Map for West Flower Garden Bank
Buoy locations at West Flower Garden Bank. Click on the image for a larger view. Credit: FGBNMS
Buoy Coordinates for West Flower Garden Bank
Buoy# Latitude (DD) Longitude (DD) Depth (ft/m)
1 27.8763 -933815117 78ft / 24m
2 27.875433 -93.813933 80ft / 24m
3 27.8743 -93.816783 80ft / 24m
4 27.8751 -93.817767 75ft / 23m
5 27.875317 -93.814817 68ft / 21m
Buoy Map for Stetson Bank
Buoy locations at Stetson Bank. Click on the image for a larger view. Credit: FGBNMS
Buoy Coordinates for Stetson Bank
Buoy# Latitude (DD) Longitude (DD) Depth (ft/m)
1 28.165517 -94.297683 74ft / 23m
2 28.16635 -94.297233 78ft / 24m
3 28.166433 -94.2961 73ft / 22m
4 28.1648 -94.29825 85ft / 26m
5 28.165283 -94.296167 79ft / 24m