Missions Header Graphic
Flower Garden Banks underwater photo
Mission notebook


During the Secrets of the Gulf expedition, Dr. Robert Ballard and a team of researchers, including sanctuaries staff, will explore the northwestern Gulf of Mexico in search of connections…

…between past and present

…between 'islands' of sea life

…between land and sea

…between animals and habitats 

…and, between people and oceans

The Gulf region is critical to our nation, supplying us with fresh seafood, as well as oil and gas.  It is also home to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary, which boasts a wealth of fascinating shallow and deep-water systems including coral reefs, brine seeps and mud volcanoes.  How these systems fit into the larger picture is the focus of this expedition.

Biologists and geologists on the team will explore how the sanctuary's marine ecosystems are connected to one another, to other parts of the gulf and to the land.  They will also observe how animals use these connections. What they learn will be used to help protect these resources for current and future generations.

Archaeologists on the team will investigate connections between the sanctuary and human history.  They will search for evidence of ancient shorelines and possible human habitation in the area around the Flower Garden Banks 15,000-20,000 years ago.

Planned cruise track for the Secrets of the Gulf expedition
Planned cruise track for the Secrets of the Gulf expedition. (Photo: Institute for Exploration)

leaving site indicates a link leaves the site. Please view our Link Disclaimer for more information.
Revised July 31, 2017 by Sanctuaries Web Team | Contact Us | Web Site Owner: National Ocean Service
National Ocean Service | National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration | Privacy Policy | For Employees | User Survey