Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary

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Chapter 3. SITE DESCRIPTION

c - Biological features

Habitats

Brief description of dominant and particular habitats (marine and terrestrial)*: List here the habitats and ecosystems that are representative and/or of importance for the WCR (i.e. mangroves, coral reefs, etc):


Brain and star corals dominate the coral caps of the Flower Garden Banks, with some coral colonies exceeding 6 meters in diameter. There are at least 21 species of coral, covering over 50% of the bottom to depths of 30 meters. Deepwater habitat of the Flower Garden Banks makes up over 98% of the area within the sanctuary boundaries. These deep habitats include algal-sponge communities, “honeycomb” reefs (highly eroded outcroppings), mud flats, mounds, mud volcanoes and brine seep systems. Assemblages in these deeper habitats include extensive coralline algae pavements and nodules, sea fans, sea whips and black corals, deep reef fish, batfish, sea robins, basket stars and feather stars.

Detail for each habitat/ecosystem the area it covers:

Marine / coastal ecosystem categories
Detail for each habitat / ecosystem the area covers
Size (estimate) Description and comments
unit Area covered
Coral reefs
Coral reefs ha 268 1.84% of the area within the sanctuary
Deep ecosystems
Deep coral ha 1237 8.51% of the area within the sanctuary
Other marine ecosystems
Mesophotic coral communities ha 5 Coral Community (i.e., non-reef-building): 0.03% of the area within the sanctuary
Algal nodules ha 2827 19.45% of the area within the sanctuary
Coralline algal reef ha 498 3.43% of the area within the sanctuary
Soft bottom community ha 9695 66.69% of the area within the sanctuary
Terrestrial ecosystems
Size (estimate)
unit Area covered