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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

kro650 - 8/19/2017 10:41 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 # 4 & 5 on the MV Fling
Saw a big Manta Ray (about 10’ Wing span)
Water was so clear you could see the sand and coral from the boat.
Dive # 5 was a night dive
Saw a big turtle swimming around. It kept coming by us.
Lots of fish.
WarmWaterTurner - 8/17/2015 5:15 AM
Rating Added: 3
8/13/2015 Dove this location off of the MV Fling. Very nice dive. Moderate to light current. We saw lots of life but nothing big. Overall a very good dive.
KFJ408 - 6/01/2015 6:45 PM
Rating Added: 4
First ever reef dive August 2014
Went back for more October 2014
Rays, sharks, barracuda and many more
Nitediver - 10/13/2014 10:05 AM
I went scuba diving here on 10/11/2014. Average viz: 61-70ft/19-21m. Water temp: 81-85°F/27-29°C.
Nitediver - 8/20/2014 1:36 AM
I went scuba diving here on 8/2/2014. Average viz: 51-60ft/16-18m. Water temp: Over 85°F/29°C.
JasonMyers - 7/24/2014 3:24 PM
I went scuba diving here on 7/21/2014. Average viz: 61-70ft/19-21m.
JasonMyers - 5/30/2014 1:31 PM
I went scuba diving here on 3/22/2014. Average viz: 51-60ft/16-18m. Water temp: 66-70°F/19-21°C.
JimKoz - 5/28/2013 9:09 AM
Rating Added: 5
Excellent
P-Fantastic - 5/15/2013 2:00 PM
Rating Added: 4
Diving is diving for me, so I enjoy it no matter what I see down there. For these dives, expect barracuda and shark, not nudibranchs or sea horses. The highlight was an oil rig dive we did. Lots of shark and barracuda and tons of colorful coral.

The biggest drawback for me was a bit of seasickness on the live-aboard.
McSushi - 5/12/2013 10:22 PM
Rating Added: 4
Beautiful diving. A great experience. Lots of great life to see and if you are EXTREMELY lucky, you will find yourself there in August at the time the sponges spawn...that rare blink in time.

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