Sanctuary Advisory Council Meeting
The Sanctuary Advisory Council meets several times a year to discuss topics relevant to sanctuary management. Past minutes and agendas are available on our Meeting Information page.
In-person with webinar option:
Wednesday, September 20, 2023
In-person: NOAA Galveston Lab Conference Room
4700 Avenue U, Building 305, Galveston, TX 77551
Computer audio recommended.
Audio Only: Call (415) 655-0060, use Audio Access Code 685-893-220
This meeting is open to the public and will include a public comment period at 12:30 p.m.
Those wishing to make public comments can sign up at the meeting location or request to speak via the webinar’s chat/question box. Public comments are limited to 3 minutes per person.
For more information, contact email@example.com.
SoFar Buoy Provides Real-time Conditions
In June 2023, the sanctuary research team installed a new real-time SoFar data buoy (yellow object in photo) at East Flower Garden Bank. This new buoy provides wave height and wind speed, as well as temperatures from the surface and at reef cap depth. This will be a great tool for both staff and visitors to assess current offshore conditions.
Support for this effort was provided by the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation and Dr. Xinping Hu from Texas A&M Version-Corpus Christi.
FY22 Education/Outreach Report
A report summarizing the activities of the sanctuary's Education, Outreach and Communications team during fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022) is now available.
Outreach is, by nature, a part of everyone’s job at FGBNMS. The more our staff talk about their jobs, the more people are aware that the sanctuary exists and is an important part of our local environment.
Together, our staff provided 52 presentations/programs to schools, clubs, libraries, and the general public; hosted nine workshops to analyze sanctuary trends in support of the condition report and climate vulnerability assessment; hosted or participated in four community events; and reached the public through exhibits at seven different venues. Our programs, workshops, and events reached almost 5,000 people, while our exhibits placed information about the sanctuary in front of another 3.3 million zoo, aquarium, and museum visitors.
Read the Full Report (pdf)
Divers! Please Help Prevent the Spread of Coral Disease to FGBNMS
Florida’s coral reefs are currently experiencing a multi-year outbreak of a stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) that has now spread over 200 miles across the Florida reef tract, and several Caribbean locations.
The disease appears to be caused by bacteria, and may be transmitted to other corals through direct contact and water circulation, meaning that divers and their gear may potentially spread this disease between sites.
As a result, we are asking divers to make sure they properly disinfect their dive gear before visiting Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, in the hopes of preventing this deadly disease from reaching our otherwise healthy reefs.
More information and disinfection protocols
Mooring Buoy Maintenance
Mooring buoys are an important part of our efforts to protect sanctuary resources while still enabling visitor access to the reefs. Anchoring is not allowed in the sanctuary, but vessels up to 100 feet in length can tie off to these surface buoys.
Buoy maintenance has been a priority for us this summer and we have already replaced several missing or damaged buoys. We've also drilled two new moorings at East Flower Garden Bank and will continue to address other damaged moorings at West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank. There are now a minimum of three mooring buoys at each of these three banks.
PLEASE NOTE: Buoys will periodically be lost as the result of improper vessel usage or severe storms, so they may not all be there when you are. Please plan your trips accordingly.
More Information on Buoys and their Coordinates
FY22 Research Report
A report summarizing the activities of the sanctuary's Research, Monitoring, and Resource Protection team during fiscal year 2022 (October 1, 2021-September 30, 2022) is now available.
Fifteen cruises were completed throughout the course of the year, with research cruises once again able to operate at full capacity. Research efforts were primarily focused on supporting the mesophotic and deep benthic communities (MDBC) project, reef monitoring, and data analysis.
A pool of almost 30 divers conducted 468 scuba dives focused on mooring buoy inspections and installations, collection of long-term monitoring data, and coral disease response. Eight sanctuary permits were processed and 11 additional permits were ongoing.
Seaside Chats is an annual speaker series about ocean science and conservation, hosted by Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
Recordings of all the February 2023 webinars are now available:
The Best Job Ever! - Steve Gittings, Office of National Marine Sanctuaries
Reconstructing the Flower Garden Banks from the Inside Out - Bill Precht, Dial Cordy and Associates, Inc.
Exploring a Future Sanctuary - Tom Bright, retired, Texas Sea Grant
Coral Forensics in the Deep Flower Garden Banks - Luke McCartin, Lehigh University
For more information and recording links, please visit our Seaside Chats page.
A Manta For Maite
In May 2022, a senseless tragedy occurred in Uvalde, Texas that claimed the lives of 19 students and 2 teachers. One of those students was an aspiring marine biologist.
Since kindergarten, Maite Yuleana Rodriguez wanted to become a marine biologist, never wavering from her path. At age 10, she dreamed of one day attending Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to be near the ocean where she could "study animals on land and water."
In an effort to keep her story and her memory alive, Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary has decided to name one of the sanctuary's manta rays in her memory.
What is a Bank?
When most of us hear the word ‘bank’ we think of financial institutions and money, but banks in the ocean have a different value.
Discover what makes a bank so special, and how banks feature prominently in three different national marine sanctuaries.
Uncover the ocean treasures of Flower Garden Banks, Cordell Bank, and Stellwagen Bank national marine sanctuaries in our new story map...
Fantastic Ocean Places You Can Bank On!
Virtual Dive Gallery
Can’t get to your national marine sanctuaries? Thanks to the wonders of 360-degree photography, videography, and virtual reality, these underwater treasures are now just a few mouse clicks away.
NOAA’s Office of National Marine Sanctuaries (ONMS) has launched a virtual dive gallery, complete with immersive 360-degree images of eight national marine sanctuaries including the Flower Garden Banks.
In celebration of World Ocean Day 2020, ONMS has now launched virtual reality voyages using 360-degree videos! Whether you live on a coast or in a community far from the shore, we invite you to experience the power and beauty of America’s underwater treasures.
Along with these videos, lesson plans have been developed for educators to further engage middle school students with the virtual dive experience. These lessons take you deeper into each video and align with leading science standards and ocean literacy principles.
Would you like to receive regular updates about sanctuary news and events? Want to learn more about diving and fishing issues in the Gulf of Mexico? Or perhaps you'd like to know more about volunteer opportunities or education resources?
We have 5 different email lists designed to keep people informed on these sanctuary-related topics. All you have to do is sign up!
Learn more and/or subscribe...
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary was expanded from 56 square miles to 160 square miles to protect additional critical habitat in the Gulf of Mexico on January 19, 2021. This means that the sanctuary is now made up of 17 different reefs and banks within 19 separate boundaries. You can explore the entire sanctuary and it's surroundings within the story map below.
Learn more about the sanctuary expansion