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Monitoring, in many different forms, is an essential part of the science efforts at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Click on the links below to visit each of the following categories on this page:

Water Quality

Long-Term Monitoring

Coral Bleaching

Coral Spawning

Coral Coring - Paleoclimatology

Hurricanes & Tropical Storms

Marine Debris


During each cruise, opportunistic temperature and salinity profiles are measured by staff researchers using a YSI probe deployed by hand. These data compliment the data collected by stationary water quality instruments on the sea floor at each bank by giving additional information about the conditions at the surface and throughout the water column.

YSI Temperature Data June 2005-May 2011 (pdf)

YSI Salinity Data June 2005-May 2011 (pdf)

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The three banks of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary are monitored on an annual basis as part of a Long-term Monitoring program. This program, which first began at East and West Flower Garden Banks, is one of the longest long-term monitoring programs of a coral reef anywhere in the world!

For more information on long-term monitoring activities and reports, please click on the links below.

Long-term Monitoring: East and West Flower Garden Banks

Long-term Monitoring: Stetson Bank

Long-term Monitoring Reports

In addition, raw and processed data from annual long-term monitoring is now being stored with NOAA's National Centers for Environmental Information. Due to the size of these data sets, it will be some time before all years are available.

2018 Stetson Bank Long-Term Monitoring Data Sets

2016 Stetson Bank Long-Term Monitoring Data Sets

2014 Stetson Bank Long-Term Monitoring Data Sets

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The Gulf of Mexico is known for very warm summer waters that spawn hurricanes. These same temperatures can cause coral bleaching, a recurring problem on coral reefs around the world.

For more information about coral bleaching in the sanctuary, please click on the links below.

Coral Bleaching Basics - brief explanation of coral bleaching and what causes it.

Map showing remote sensing sites in the Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico
Remote sensing map from NOAA's Coral Reef Watch
virtual stations website

Remote Sensing through NOAA Coral Reef Watch - use this site to see what sea surface temperatures have been like in the sanctuary this year and how close they are to the bleaching threshold.


Additional monitoring efforts are also undertaken in response to significant events in and around the sanctuary. These include annual occurrences such as the mass coral spawning, as well as intermittent events and ongoing problems.

For more information on these monitoring activities and reports, please click on the links below:

Coral Spawning

Hurricanes and Tropical Storms

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weather report observations cool stuff get wet

Orange, branching gorgonian (soft coral) anchored in a bed of sponges and other sea life.
National Marine Sanctuary logo - a stylized whale tail above waves