Gulf of Mexico
Dense fields of brightly colored gorgonians and sponges grow atop the ancient basalt spires at Alderdice Bank in NOAA's Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. (NOAA)

Expansion proposal for Flower Garden Banks sanctuary released

New boundaries proposed for the Flower Gardens National Marine Sanctuary would protect Gulf habitat.

Building on more than three decades of scientific exploration and public calls for additional protections, NOAA today released a proposal to expand Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary to protect additional important Gulf of Mexico habitat.

NOAA is proposing to add 14 additional reefs and banks to the sanctuary that provide essential habitat for recreationally and commercially important fish, as well as habitats for threatened or endangered species including sea turtles, corals, and manta rays. The sanctuary would expand from 56 square miles to 160 square miles.

This proposed expansion demonstrates NOAA’s consistent support to the National Marine Sanctuary System that was highlighted in the November 2019 designation of the new sanctuary in Mallows Bay on the Potomac River in Maryland.