Rock the Boat: Researching, Educating, and Protecting on the Water
In 2008, the newest and largest sanctuary research vessel, R/V Manta was launched. Built for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, the Manta is large and fast enough to safely conduct research and education at the very distant banks that form the centerpiece of the sanctuary, and do so at a far lesser cost than larger vessels.
Like rangers in National Parks needing jeeps and trucks to traverse and patrol their parks, sanctuary staff need small boats to move around in the sanctuary and help achieve response/rescue, enforcement, science, research, restoration, resource protection, education, and outreach missions across sites. Seven new boats, each over 40 feet in length, have been constructed in recent years, dramatically enhancing capabilities for conservation and stewardship of site resources. Five of these boats are larger “Shearwater Class” vessels—greater than 50 feet in length and providing robust at-sea capabilities--named after the R/V Shearwater was launched in 2002 for Channel Islands. Two 41-foot advanced composite light-weight foil boats and two 11-meter boats were added in recent years to meet the unique requirements of sanctuary sites.