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August 15-19, 2010
aboard the R/V MANTA

This cruise was cut short due to high currents at West Flower Garden Bank.


R/V Manta crew
Sanctuary research team
BOEMRE divers
Texas A&M Galveston AAUS divers

Data Collection

Data collection, including photo stations, photo transects and fish surveys, was completed at East Flower Garden Bank (EFGB).

A diver takes a photograph at a specific point along a transect tape on the reef
Sanctuary superintendent G.P. Schmahl takes photographs along randomly placed transect lines. Photo: Hickerson/FGBNMS

Heavy currents caused us to abort data collection activities at West Flower Garden Bank (WFGB).


At EFGB, we noted a thermocline at mid-water. It was 84F (29C) on top and 80F (27C) on bottom, although this changed through the week.  Visibility ranged from 50-70 ft (15-21 m).


Corals looked healthy at EFGB, although some false bleaching was noted.

A colony of elkhorn coral on the reef
The only known colony of elkhorn coral
(Acropora palmata)
at East Flower Garden Bank appears to be doing well.

Photo: Hickerson/FGBNMS

A bright orange algae was also very noticeable. We collected a sample and sent it to Dr. Suzanne Fredericq for identification. She identified it as decaying Martensia pavonia. Alive, it is actually a pinkish-red color.

Bright orange algae amid a similar green algae.
Fluorescent orange algae was sampled and sent off
for identification.
Photo: Hickerson/FGBNMS

Several mantas were also sighted by divers while at EFGB. 

Two small sea slugs in a bed of green algae.  Sea slugs are white with bright orange ruffles down the center of their backs. 
Painted elysia nudibranchs (Thuridilla picta) at East Flower
Garden Bank
. Photo: Hickerson/FGBNMS

At WFGB, we saw a loggerhead sea turtle on the surface, and divers encountered a large tiger shark underwater.  

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There was very little benthic cover on the 60’ peak, but was quite lush benthic cover at the 80’ peak – dominated by sponges.

weather report observations cool stuff get wet

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