[Coral-List] Flower Garden Banks NMS August 2009 mass coral spawning report

Emma.Hickerson at noaa.gov Emma.Hickerson at noaa.gov
Thu Aug 20 17:14:46 EDT 2009

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary
Coral Spawning Report
August, 2009

The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary harbors two separate coral reef caps, 100 miles south of the Texas/Louisiana border in the Northwestern Gulf of Mexico.  The two banks, East (EFGB) and West Flower Garden Banks (WFGB), are approximately 12 miles apart.  The shallowest coral reef is 54ft depth, and high coral cover (50-70%) continues down to at least 150ft depth.  The reefs are dominated by enormous brain and star corals, most of which are mass spawning species.  

The EFGB coral cap covers an area of 1.02 km², and  the WFGB coral cap covers an area of 0.4km².  “No anchor” rules apply to the entire sanctuary, and  mooring buoys on the reef cap are maintained through the Sanctuary program, for vessels under 100ft in length.  

Two vessels were on station making observations during the mass coral spawning event at the EFGB.  The FGBNMS R/V MANTA was on station with 9 divers on board.  A commercial dive boat, the M/V FLING, was on station with 15 recreational divers.  One knowledgeable diver on the recreational vessel reported his sightings.   Divers spend approximately 45minutes at depth, and cover a very limited portion of the reef.  The following is a summary of sightings from both vessels:

August 11, 2009
2125-2140 Montastraea cavernosa male, 2 colonies
2125-2140 M. cavernosa female, 1 colony
2150-2155 M. cavernosa 2 colonies, female colony 1
2205 M. franski, 1 colony

August 12, 2009
2133-2218 M. franksi, 34 colonies
2149 Diploria strigosa, 1 colony

August 13, 2009
2110-2135 M. cavernosa male, 8 colonies
+2125-2210+ M. franksi, 59 colonies
+2125-2205 D. strigosa, 31 colonies
2250 D. strigosa, 1 colony
2240 Stephanocoenia intersepta male, 1 colony
2245-2330+ M. faveolata, 20 colonies

Other spawning observations
August 10, 2009
2125-2140 Christmas tree worms (Spirobranchus giganteus)

August 11, 2009
Approx. 0930 Barrel sponge (Xestospongia muta )
2125-2140 Christmas tree worms, 3 male individuals

FGBNMS Coral Spawning Research Team
Emma Hickerson
G.P. Schmahl
John Embesi
Marissa Nuttall
Sarah Davies
Eli Meyer
Neal Baltz

Emma Hickerson
Research Coordinator
Flower Garden Banks NMS
4700 Ave. U, Bldg 216
Galveston, TX 77551
409-621-5151, ext. 111
Emma.hickerson at noaa.gov

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