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Ship to Serve NOAA’s Flower Garden Banks Sanctuary
Today, NOAA christened a new, state-of-the-art
research vessel that will enhance the study and protection of Flower
Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary in the Gulf of Mexico. The
83-foot R/V Manta will operate out of Galveston,
Texas, where the
sanctuary is headquartered.
“This technologically advanced research
vessel is a vital addition to our fleet,” said Daniel J.
Basta, director of NOAA’s Office of National Marine
Sanctuaries. “The Manta will open new
windows onto the marine
life and habitats of the Flower Garden Banks sanctuary while helping us
protect this special place for future generations.”
Built in Bellingham, Wash., by All American
Marine, the twin-hulled Manta features a laboratory
equipped with the
latest scientific instruments, air compressors to allow divers to
refill scuba tanks at sea, and a recompression chamber to enhance diver
safety. The vessel can hold up to 25 people, deploy robot subs and
other ocean exploration tools, and cruise at speeds up to 35 knots.
In addition to being a platform for exploring the
sanctuary and surrounding waters, the Manta will
also serve both as a
patrol vessel to enforce sanctuary regulations and a floating
classroom. Teachers will be regular visitors aboard the Manta to watch
and learn as scientists conduct research.
“With the Manta, we
will be able to
study the sanctuary more intensively, protect it more effectively, and
share its wonders with more people than ever before,” said
G.P. Schmahl, the sanctuary’s superintendent. “The
vessel’s capabilities are as diverse as the sanctuary
Located 115 miles off the Texas/Louisiana coast,
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is one of 14 marine
protected areas managed by NOAA’s Office of National Marine
Sanctuaries. The sanctuary includes the two northernmost coral reefs in
the continental United States, sponge communities, and other habitats.
The National Oceanic and Atmospheric
Administration, an agency of the U.S. Commerce Department, is dedicated
to enhancing economic security and national safety through the
prediction and research of weather and climate-related events and
information service delivery for transportation, and by providing
environmental stewardship of our nation's coastal and marine resources.
Through the emerging Global Earth Observation System of Systems
(GEOSS), NOAA is working with its federal partners, more than 70
countries and the European Commission to develop a global monitoring
network that is as integrated as the planet it observes, predicts and