Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

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Chapter 3. SITE DESCRIPTION

a - General features of the site

Terrestrial surface under sovereignty, excluding wetlands:

0 sq. km

Wetland surface:

0 ha

Marine surface:

145 sq. km

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Three discrete topographic features 112 -185 km off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana that rise to within 17 m of the sea surface and surrounded by water depths of 150 m where seafloor hardgrounds and brine seeps support deepwater coral and chemosynthetic communities.

b - Physical features

Brief description of the main physical characteristics in the area:

East Flower Garden Bank is a pear-shaped topographic high that rises 150 m above the surrounding seafloor at the margin of the continental shelf. It is 8.7 by 5.1 km in size, capped by 1.43 square km of coral reef that is within 17 meters of the sea surface. West Flower Garden Bank is a similar oblong-shaped topographic feature, 11 by 8 km in size and includes 0.42 square km of coral reef area 18 meters below the surface. Stetson Bank is located 113 km south of Galveston, Texas, and 48 km to the northwest of West Flower Garden Bank on the continental shelf. Stetson Bank is 800 m long, 300 m wide, and rises abruptly from the 53 m depth of the local seafloor to its highest point of 17 m below the sea surface. The bank is ringed by a 2,500 m diameter outcropping of hardground on the seafloor with a maximum of 2.5 m of relief.