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From general exploration and habitat characterization to investigations of specific research questions to routine monitoring of resource health, science in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary plays a vital role in making informed resource management decisions.

Hawksbill sea turtle resting on the reef with two divers visible in the background
A hawksbill sea turtle rests on the reef as divers
work nearby.
Photo: Hickerson/FGBNMS

Information gathered by the sanctuary science team and our partners provides the information necessary to expand upon existing baseline data, compare existing habitat conditions with past conditions, and allocate limited resources to effectively target the most important management issues with research efforts.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary strongly encourages researchers and students to conduct their scientific studies at the site. In particular, the sanctuary encourages science that supports management concerns.

Hunchback scorpionfish sitting on the silty sea floor.
A hunchback scorpionfish as seen by an ROV

The logistics of conducting research at this site can often be challenging, given the distance from shore and limited access to the reef. Although we are usually unable to support projects through funding, we support research by facilitating access to the site.

Most research activities require a permit from the sanctuary. Interested graduate students and principal investigators should contact the Research Coordinator to discuss their research ideas prior to launching a project.

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In general, the research team is made up of a Research Coordinator, Research Specialist(s), Research Assistant(s), and Research Intern(s).  The Sanctuary Superintendent also plays a major role in developing research strategies and participating in research activities. 

Two researchers examine a reef sample brought up from an ROV survey
Two members of the research team examine a
sample collected using an ROV.

The crew of the R/V MANTA is an extension of the Research Team.  Working closely with the crew is our NOAA Corps Officer, who holds the role of Marine Operations Officer. Together, these people are crucial to the success of the research objectives.

Learn more about sanctuary staff

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The R/V MANTA, a custom built research vessel, was dedicated in 2008. After a challenging beginning, the 2009 field season was our first successful year of operations.  This vessel has become the centerpiece of our research activities.

Aluminum hull researh boat underway
Photo: All American Marine

Learn more about the R/V MANTA

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Links to a variety of science reports are available from our Science Reports page.

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