Coral Reef Sanctuary Expands
Flower Garden Banks triples in size and protection off Texas coast.
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary protects an astounding bounty of marine life: 22 species of coral, 250 species of tropical fish, giant barrel sponges, marine turtles and amazing visitors such as oceanic manta rays, whale sharks and schools of hammerhead sharks. The densely packed coral reefs are among the healthiest in the entire Western Hemisphere.
A three-fold expansion of the sanctuary took effect in March, increasing the number of reefs from three to 17 and adding more than 100 square miles. On a map, the expanded area looks like a necklace of connected sanctuaries that stretch for 160 miles west to east across the Outer Continental Shelf off Texas and Louisiana.
The expansion process took 14 years of extensive work with partner groups and the public. For more information: flowergarden.noaa.gov.
Jesse Cancelmo; Map courtesy NOAA
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