Flower Garden Banks


Mesophotic Reefs

Beginning right around the depth limits of recreational scuba diving (130 feet), mesophotic, or "twilight zone" habitats experience low light conditions that several light-dependent species have adapted to live in. From here, the mesophotic zone extends into even lower light areas, where we begin to see deeper mesophotic reefs full of black corals, soft corals, sponges, algae, and algal nodules. It is here that many new species discoveries have been made over the past few decades in Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Researchers have also learned that these ecosystems serve as essential fish habitat for some economically and ecologically important fish species.

Mesophotic reefs
Photo: Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration/NOAA