Tracking Sanctuary Trends

National marine sanctuaries serve as crucial sites to track changes to the health and wellbeing of the ocean environment. Researchers throughout sanctuaries return to the same sites year after year to evaluate whether conditions are improving, declining, or remaining the same. The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary long-term monitoring program, which began in 1989, is one of the longest-running monitoring programs of a coral reef anywhere in the world! The data collected help researchers all over the world understand reef health.

A diver taking measurements of coral

A NOAA research diver photographs a transect during long-term monitoring of coral reefs in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Photo: G.P. Schmahl/NOAA