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November 8-9, 2012
aboard R/V MANTA


R/V MANTA crew
Sanctuary research team
TAMUG volunteer divers
FDA researcher


The purpose of this trip was to collect water samples at all three banks within the sanctuary and maintain water quality instruments.  

In addition, a representative from the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) also joined the cruise to coordinate fish and algae collections as part of a collaborative ciguatera study with FDA and the University of Texas.  In addition to ciguatera testing, the fish will be analyzed for mercury levels (in collaboration with Got Mercury?) and aged using otoliths.

Lionfish on the reef

Lionfish were also collected, primarily at Stetson Bank, and will be processed for gut content and genetics.

At East Flower Garden Bank, site refurbishment was conducted at the long-term monitoring study site and two large coils of steel marine debris were removed. At West Flower Garden Bank, the deep long-term monitoring site was revisited and re-photographed.

Conditions & Sightings

Seas ranged from 2-5 feet (.6-1.5 m) with little current, up to 100 foot (30 m) visibility, and water temperature was 78-79 F (26 C).  Notable sightings were several loggerhead sea turtles on the surface and underwater, as well as multiple tiger and sandbar sharks.

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