Scope Of Coral Reefs In Flower Gardens
Beauty can't hide! Flower gardens exist in our vast oceans. Fishermen have long noted colored fish and coral reefs in the Gulf of Mexico. The flower gardens banks consist of coral-capped banks or sandstone banks with fire coral and sponge-laden pinnacles and flats. Thirteen red dots in the following map locate such banks so close to the northwestern Gulf shores. These coral reefs are the northernmost in the continental United States.
Also shown in the map are the lines indicating the location of oil and gas pipelines in green and the shipping fairways in blue. Those are only some of the human activities where bus-sized whales visit house-large coral reefs.
NOAA: Blue angelfish.
Hurricanes Katrina, Rita, and Ike came in succession to the northwestern part of Gulf of Mexico where the Flower Gardens reside just 100 miles (around 167 km) off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The map below shows the names of the nine banks of which three are now designated as the NOAA Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS).
The FGBNMS includes three separate areas: East Flower Garden, West Flower Garden, and Stetson Banks. The sanctuary serves as a reservoir of reef fishes and invertebrates. NOAA studies the coral assemblages on the banks and has reported live coral coverage at nearly 50%, one of the highest in the Caribbean.
NOAA: Comprehensive sampling and characterization of the coral caps down to 33.5 m (110 ft).
And it "snows" in the Flower Gardens in August after the full moon for about a week when corals and invertebrates spawn in concert. An underwater snowstorm of sorts for nobody we know!