Texas State Aquarium Participates in Long-Term Monitoring of FGBNMS
October 6, 2022
CORPUS CHRISTI, TX – The Texas State Aquarium, along with colleagues at National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi (TAMUCC), and Audubon Nature Institute worked on long-term monitoring tasks at East and West Flower Garden Banks, just over 100 miles offshore of Galveston, Texas. The banks of Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) are monitored on an annual basis as part of a Long-term Monitoring program.
The purpose of this cruise was to finish 2022 long-term monitoring (LTM) tasks such as capturing photo station images, fish surveys, lobster and urchin surveys, and random transects. A secondary objective to this cruise was monitoring and responding to possible stony coral tissue loss disease (SCTLD) observations at East Flower Garden Bank and West Flower Garden Bank after NOAA announced an unusual coral mortality event. Although NOAA has not confirmed SCTLD as the cause of this event, some corals are showing SCTLD-like symptoms, including lesions and tissue loss.
Aquarium Dive Officer, Shannon Hunt, participated in the cruise from September 20 through September 21, 2022, alongside colleagues from FGBNMS, TAMUCC, and the Audubon Aquarium. Divers located survey points for photographs, conducted fish surveys, and treated selected SCTLD colonies, along with other long-term monitoring tasks. The collection of this long-term data provides better assessments of the reefs and their health over time.
“We are truly lucky to have such a well-studied and documented marine sanctuary within the Gulf of Mexico, and it is through the collaboration of various organizations throughout the Gulf Coast that allows the work in FGBNMS to continue at such a high capacity,” says Shannon Hunt, Dive Officer at the Texas State Aquarium, “TSA is very excited to be taking a larger part in the marine conservation work happening in our own backyard and to dive alongside such great partners.”
Credit: Harte Research Institute and Texas State Aquarium
Credit: Texas State Aquarium