Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
ONMS Sentinel Site, Southeast Region, Gulf of Mexico

photo of coral spawning

Coral spawning in Flower Garden Banks. Credit: NOAA

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary contains two of the few remaining healthy coral reef ecosystems in the Tropical Western Atlantic and Caribbean region. The site also harbors significant coral communities, and mesophotic coral habitat. It is a place to study reefs in a minimally altered state, which can serve as a comparison site for reefs under more stress. For these reasons, we strongly encourage researchers to conduct studies in the sanctuary. The sanctuary particularly encourages research that supports management concerns.

Information gathered by the sanctuary science team and research partners continually expands upon existing baseline data, allowing us to compare existing and past conditions, and allocate limited resources to effectively target the most important management issues.

The logistics of conducting research at Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary can be challenging, given the distance from shore and open ocean conditions. Although we are usually unable to provide direct funding to projects, we support researchers by facilitating access to the site when possible and making ancillary data available.

Most research activities require a permit from the sanctuary.  Interested graduate students and principal investigators should contact the Research Coordinator to discuss their research ideas prior to launching a project.