To help the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary evaluate how well it protects its natural resources, scientists from the National Centers for Coastal Ocean Science conducted a fish and bottom-dwelling community survey. This concludes the two-year long survey project for the sanctuary.
Using technical and scientific scuba techniques, theinvestigatorsdocumented fish and the structure of invertebrates and other seafloor creatures on the shallow portion of the sanctuary's coral. Additional investigators used remotely operated vehicles to survey deeper habitats. Using hydroacoustics, scientists estimated fish densities throughout the federally protected area. They also collected algae samples to test them for toxic ciguatera, and they saw signs of a coralbleaching event.
This series of surveys provides the sanctuary with the information necessary to expand upon existing baseline data,compare existing habitat conditions with past conditions, and allocate limited resources to effectively target themost important management issues with research efforts, according to the sanctuary's website.