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Atlantic Coral Reef

Immerse yourself in the colorful world of a coral reef in the Gulf of Mexico.

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The Flower Garden Banks reefs are the most northerly of the well-developed coral reef communities in the Gulf of Mexico. They sit atop salt domes near the edge of the sandy continental shelf. These reefs are bathed year-round by warm, clear ocean currents.

Like coral reefs around the world, the Flower Gardens are vulnerable to pollution, over-fishing, over-collecting, oil spills and damage caused by anchors. Flower Garden Banks is a National Marine Sanctuary.

As Diverse as a Rain Forest

Day or night, coral reefs are active communities inhabited by thousands of different kinds of animals — all competing for food and living space in the warm, shallow waters.

Living reefs support about one-third of the world’s fish species. Reef fish often have unique adaptations for eluding predators, recognizing mates and feeding. Some, like triggerfish, escape predators by wedging themselves into narrow crevices with dorsal fins erected. Others, such as the butterflyfish, attract mates of the same species with unique colors and patterns.