Flower Garden Banks
East and West Flower Garden Banks (EFGB and WFGB) were designated as the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) through the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) in January 1992. In 1996, a third bank, Stetson Bank (not a true coral reef), was added to the Sanctuary. It is located about 30 miles northwest of the West Flower Garden Bank. Because of a number of factors, including geographical isolation and water temperature, there is a relatively low biodiversity of reef-building corals inhabiting these banks.
The Flower Garden Banks, which encompass a variety of habitats, including the northernmost coral reefs in the continental United States, are located near the outer edge of the continental shelf in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, approximately 120 miles southeast of Galveston, Texas. These banks, created by the uplift of underlying salt domes, rise from depths of over 330 feet to within 56 feet of the surface. They are relatively isolated from other Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico coral reefs. The nearest reefs are 400 miles away in the Gulf of Mexico off the coast of Tampico, and over 745 miles from the coral reefs of the Florida Keys.
The complexity of habitats supports a diverse assemblage of organisms including approximately 250 species of fishes, 23 species of coral, and 80 species of algae in addition to large sponge communities The predominant coral species at the East and West Flower Gardens are massive, closely-spaced boulder and brain corals and mountainous star corals. Coral growth is relatively uniform over the entire top of both banks, occupying the bank crests down to about 50 meters. The prevalent species at Stetson Bank are smaller encrusting corals, such as fire coral (not a true coral) and green cactus coral.
In addition to the coral reefs within the FGBNMS, there are a number of other reefs and banks in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico that contain corals or coral communities. Some contain significant communities of deep water corals in depths from about 200 to 500 feet.
The coral reef ecosystem at the FGBNMS has been described as being relatively pristine and thiving, as compared to other Caribbean reef systems, despite its location in the middle of one of the largest oil and gas fields in the world.
Several reefs and banks in the vicinity of the FGBNMS also harbor deep water coral communities. These banks include Bright, Geyer, Sonnier, and McGrail Banks.
Flower Garden Banks location map
Flower Garden Banks satellite map
State of the Reefs Reports (SOTR)
The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2008.
The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2005.
The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States: 2002.
Metadata, Data and Publications Search in CoRIS
Search the CoRIS Data & Publications Section for Flower Garden Banks metadata, data and publications
ReefBase Coral Bleaching Reports
Select "U.S. Caribbean" in the Region window and "Gulf of Mexico (USA)" in the Country window
Other Data & Information
Detailed Methods for Characterization and Monitoring of Coral Reef Ecosystems and Associated Biological Communities at Flower Garden Banks
National Data Buoy Center 3-meter discus buoy: Station 42019 - Freeport, TX 60 NM South of Freeport, TX
Satellite Coral Bleaching Monitoring
Texas Automated Buoy System (TABS). Texas A & M University’s Geochemical and Environmental Research Group (GERG) operates two data buoys near the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary at Sites N and V. The buoys measure winds, air temperature and humidity, atmospheric pressure, conductivity, and surface currents and report the data in near real time though the Texas Automated Buoy System.
NOAA Coral Reef Ecosystem Research Plan for Fiscal Years 2007 to 2011
National Marine Sanctuaries Act
Executive orders, Secretarial Orders, and Congressional Acts
Biogeographic Characterization of Fish Communities and Associated Benthic Habitats within the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Education and Outreach
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary - Encyclopedia
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary - Education
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary - Research and monitoring summaries
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary - student interest
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary - News and Events
NOAA Draft Poster: Algae and Invertebrates of Deepwater Communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Draft Poster: Antipatharians of Deepwater Communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Draft Poster: Fishes of Deepwater Communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Draft Poster: Octocorals of Deepwater Communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
NOAA Draft Poster: Sponges of Deepwater Communities in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico
Marine Protected Areas/Marine Managed Areas
Report on the Status of Marine Protected Areas in Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States. Volume 1: Marine Protected Areas Managed by U.S. States, Territories, and Commonwealths. NOAA Technical Memorandum CRCP 2 February 2007
Electronic Code of Federal Regulations: Fisheries of the Caribbean, Gulf, and South Atlantic
Marine Protected Areas of the United States Home Page
The Marine Protected Areas Inventory
Federal MPA Legislation
Marine Federal Areas Fact Sheet
Executive order 13158: Marine Protected Areas
Marine Protected Areas of the United States
MPA Virtual Library
Flower Gardens Bank National Marine Sanctuary
The Flower Garden National Marine Sanctuary -- A Success Story
Proposed Expansion of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Reef Fish Longline and Buoy Gear Restricted Area
Reef Fish Stressed Area
A Review of Gulf of Mexico Marine Protected Areas
Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve (RBNERR)
Texas Coastal Management Program
Texas Gulf Ecological Management Sites