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The Flower Garden Banks NMS is one of 14 federally designated underwater areas protected by NOAA’s National Marine Sanctuary Program. Located 70 to 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana, these underwater communities rise from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico atop underwater mountains called salt domes. The sanctuary actually protects three separate areas: East Flower Garden Bank, West Flower Garden Bank and Stetson Bank. These banks are separated from each other by miles of open ocean ranging from 200 to 400 feet (61-122 meters) deep, and each bank has its own set of boundaries. Management of the sanctuary is accomplished by a staff of eight full-time employees through a combination of education, science, resource protection and regulatory programs.

HISTORY

The Flower Garden Banks were discovered by snapper and grouper fishermen in the late 1800’s. They named the banks after the brightly colored sponges, plants, and other marine life they sometimes snagged and brought to the surface. Continued interest in the biological diversity and breathtaking beauty of the reefs at East and West Flower Garden Banks led to their designation as a sanctuary under the National Marine Sanctuary Act (NMSA) (160kb pdf) in 1992. The coral-sponge communities of Stetson Bank were added to the sanctuary in 1996. More about the sanctuary’s history.

NATURAL SETTING

Understanding the complexities of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary’s local ecosystems requires learning about all of the components of the natural setting, including the underlying geology, all of the various habitats within the sanctuary, the larger context of the Gulf of Mexico ecosystem and the watershed that drains into it, as well as the individual plants and animals found within the sanctuary.

Comments

wuzaracer - 8/21/2017 5:50 PM
I went scuba diving here on 8/18/2017. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
kro650 - 8/19/2017 10:22 AM
I went scuba diving here on 8/12/2017. Average viz: 71-80ft/22-24m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
Dive # 1 & 2 on the MV Fling.
Great visibility
Saw lots of fish & 1 Manta Ray (about 5’ wing span)
Chris’s tank valve was leaking. Had to go up early to get it repaired.
cathy_mcwilliams - 9/28/2015 12:35 PM
I went scuba diving here on 9/26/2015. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
youtube.com/watch?v=IvlyOMoLzOo
Czechcanadian - 8/05/2015 6:01 PM
Rating Added: 4
Went there back in April and was a pretty cool dive. There’s lots of fish, nurse sharks, southern stingrays, groupers, etc. Saw some large lion fish too. Wished they would allow you to catch them. There was a slight current there too at the time.
cathy_mcwilliams - 8/05/2015 7:36 PM
I didn’t see any sharks, but did see quite a few lionfish. also red banded shrimp, juvenile damselfish and a ton of barracuda! the current was ever present - my first time in a current so I really learned my lesson about swimming with and against the current. I have already signed up to go back the end of September!
cathy_mcwilliams - 8/02/2015 8:13 AM
I went scuba diving here on 7/30/2015. Average viz: 101-110ft/31-34m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
One night dive and the rest during the day. hey on the night dive: the things that go bump in the night really do come out at night! the best time ever provided by Fling Charters out of Freeport, TX. I must go again. anyone want to join me?
KFJ408 - 6/01/2015 6:46 PM
Rating Added: 4
First ever reef dive August 2014
Went back for more October 2014
Rays, sharks, barracuda and many more
Nitediver - 8/06/2014 6:38 AM
I went scuba diving here on 8/3/2014. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
Nitediver - 8/06/2014 6:14 AM
I went scuba diving here on 8/2/2014. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
Nitediver - 8/06/2014 5:41 AM
I went scuba diving here on 8/2/2014. Average viz: 91-100ft/28-30m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
JasonMyers - 5/30/2014 1:27 PM
I went scuba diving here on 3/22/2014. Average viz: 51-60ft/16-18m. Water temp: 66-70°F/19-21°C.
First dive was a drift dive. Lot’s of fun. Saw a spotted eagle ray during the decent, and a turtle swam u to me during the dive.
Texas-Grrl - 6/02/2013 2:03 PM
Rating Added: 3
This was my least favorite of the three Flower Gardens sites. It’s still good diving, however!
JimKoz - 5/28/2013 9:16 AM
Rating Added: 5
Excellent

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