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Revision 5/31/2013 7:31 AM by LatitudeAdjustment
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West Flower Garden Bank (Texas Flower Gardens) - TX

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.


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.


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.