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Home / Community / WHAT CAN YOU FIND AT THE FLOWER GARDEN BANKS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY?

WHAT CAN YOU FIND AT THE FLOWER GARDEN BANKS NATIONAL MARINE SANCTUARY?

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By Trishna Buch
Water safety is of utmost importance
and, keeping this in mind, the Texas
City Museum hosted a Maritime event.
During this event, several tidbits of water
safety were discussed, and different
water-related organizations made an
appearance to discuss what they consist
of and what they are all about.
One such organization was the
Flower Garden Banks National Marine
Sanctuary. Located 75 to 115 miles off
the Texas and Louisiana coasts, this
sanctuary includes “underwater communities
that rise from the depths of the
Gulf of Mexico atop underwater mountains
called salt domes.” According to
the sanctuary’s website: it protects three
separate banks—East Flower Garden
Bank, West Flower Garden Bank and
Stetson Bank—and each bank contains
its own boundaries.
The different banks were discovered
hundreds of years ago by snapper and
grouper fishermen. These banks were
so named after the different types of
marine life these snappers and grouper
fishermen could see below their boats,
including colorful sponges and plants.
Years after these banks were discovered
and named, they were declared
a sanctuary under the National Marine
Sanctuary Act in 1992. And in 1996 was
when “the algal-sponge communities of
Stetson Bank were added to the sanctuary.”
Research is a very important component
of the sanctuary and, according to
the sanctuary’s website, the “information
gathered by the sanctuary science
team and our partners provides the
information necessary to expand upon
existing baseline data, compare existing
habitat conditions with past conditions,
and allocate limited resources to effectively
target the most important management
issues with research efforts.” The
sanctuary’s research team, which consists
of a research coordinator, research
specialists, research assistants and
research interns, conducts its research
on the R/V MANTA, “a custom built
research vessel” which was dedicated
to the sanctuary in 2008. Along with the
research team, the R/V MANTA crew
and the sanctuary superintendent are
helpful in “developing research strategies
and participating in research activities.”
And not only their own researchers,
but the sanctuary encourages all
researchers and students to conduct
their research activities on site, especially
those that “supports management
concerns.”  the sanctuary consists of information for
teachers and students on how to use this
resource to benefit a child’s education.
Several curriculum and lesson ideas are
outlined for teachers, as well as activities
that can be completed year-long and
those that are specific for different holidays.
When it comes to students, there is
information provided about the different
creatures found in the Gulf Of Mexico,
as well as crossword puzzles and activities
that students can use as fun ways to
apply what they have learnt.
Protection of the sanctuary is also significantly
important, as discussed by its
website. But, of course, considering that
the sanctuary is located 50 feet underwater
and 100 miles from land, planning
and monitoring is required to properly
protect this resource. According to the
sanctuary website, different ways to protect
it include “installing and maintaining
mooring buoys”, “getting the sanctuary
designated as an internationally recognized
no-anchoring area”, developing
contingency plans to respond to oil spills,
groundings and other hazardous incidents
and including “appropriate enforcement,
permitting and regulations.”
If you would like more information on
the sanctuary and everything it has to
offer, go online to flowergarden.noaa.gov.

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