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August 15-17, 2014
aboard the R/V MANTA


The sanctuary research team, along with scientists from Oregon State University and the University of Texas at Austin, traveled to the sanctuary to study and document the annual mass coral spawning of its reefs.

The event occurred as predicted, with some spawning taking place on the seventh night after the August full moon (Saturday, Aug. 16), and the majority taking place the following night. Witnesses to this year's event described the spawning event as less prolific than years past.  

Researchers also collected spawn and coral fragments to study genetics, thermal tolerance, and fluorescence in corals. These acitivities were accomplished under a sanctuary research permit.

Woman sitting on top deck of boat next to a couple dozen containers holding live coral fragments.
The Oregon State University research team with the coral fragments they collected from East Flower Garden Bank. Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

The collected fragments were stored in tubs on the top deck of R/V MANTA for observation.

Woman wearing a head-mounted light and collecting samples in a test tube at night.
Oregon State University researcher collecting samples in a test tube. Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

Researchers organizing containers of live coral fragments on the top deck of R/V MANTA
Extensive setup in preparation for the coral fragments to spawn on the top deck of R/V MANTA. 
Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

Researchers watched the coral fragments at spawning time using red lights so as not to 'disturb' the corals. This allowed for night time conditions, but provided enough light for the researchers to complete their tasks.

Researchers watching coral fragments at night using red lights
Researchers watching the coral fragments for spawning and preparing to collect spawn samples. Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

The coral fragments spawned on cue, in tubs on the top deck of R/V Manta, while the vessel was docked at Texas A&M Galveston at the end of the trip.

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Daytime Activities

A sampling carousel was used to measure temperature and salinity to 200 feet near one of the TABS (Texas Automated Buoy System) buoys near East Flower Garden Bank.

Two students stand on either side of a CTD carousel on the back deck of R/V MANTA. In the background, a large TABS buoy is floating on the water's surface.
Two TAMUG volunteers get ready to deploy a CTD carousel
to collect temperature and salinity data near East Flower Garden Bank.
Image: FGBNMS/Embesi

Water quality instruments were also downloaded and serviced. This instrument is used to measure temperature and salinity at the reef crest. One is deployed at each bank within the sanctuary. They require quarterly maintenance and downloading.

A railway wheel sitting on the sea floor with water quality instrument attached.
The instrument attached to this railway wheel is used to measure temperature and salinity at the reef crest.
Image: FGBNMS/Nuttall

Placozoa recruitment plates were installed at various locations around the reef as part of a TAMUG project.

Diver attaching an object to the top of a metal rsearch pin embedded in the reef.
NOAA diver John Embesi installs a placozoa recruitment plate. Image: FGBNMS/Nuttall

Small, square blue box attached to the top of a metal research pin embedded in the reef.Installed placozoa recruitment plate. Image: FGBNMS/Nuttall

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General Coral Spawning Information

For general information about the annual mass coral spawning event in the sanctuary, please visit our Coral Spawning at FGBNMS page.

For summaries and reports from other spawning seasons, please use the links below:

2013 Coral Spawning

2011 Coral Spawning

2010 Coral Spawning

2009 Coral Spawning

2008 Coral Spawning

2007 Coral Spawning

2006 Coral Spawning

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Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
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