March 2nd, 2019
Photo: Kelly Groce
My first wahoo weighed in at 36 pounds. (Check out those seas behind me). Photo: Shayne Ellis
BY KELLY GROCE
I was lucky enough to tag along with Team Pay Czech as they went searching for wahoo out of Freeport Marina for the 2019 Winter Wahoo Championship. Despite the howling winds and 4-6’ seas, we caught wahoo, blackfin tuna, amberjack and barracuda and had an absolute blast while doing so. Huge thanks again to Joe Schiller, Joey Schiller, Shayne Ellis and Collin Ferrera for inviting me along my first overnight offshore trip as well as my first wahoo. Go Team Pay Czech!
Collin Ferrera stuck this beautiful wahoo. Photo: Kelly Groce
June 21st, 2018
Where do young manta rays spend their time? Finally, researchers have an answer: Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.
In a paper published in Marine Biology, Dr. Nancy Foster Scholar Joshua Stewart and sanctuary researchers Marissa Nuttall, Emma Hickerson, and Dr. Michelle Johnston suggest that Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary and the area surrounding it may represent the first documented nursery habitat for oceanic manta rays (Manta birostris) and a potential new species of manta (Manta cf. birostris).
In light of the fact that oceanic manta rays were recently listed as threatened under the Endanger Species Act, this is quite significant. The protections provided within the sanctuary keep juvenile mantas relatively safe from threats affecting them in other parts of the world.
We always knew this place was special. This new finding just makes it more so!
September 27th, 2016
Summer is field season for Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary. Typically, the Gulf of Mexico is warmer, seas are calmer, and underwater visibility is at it’s best this time of year.
But, this has not been a typical summer. Challenging sea conditions have caused us to reschedule or cancel several research cruises and have limited work efforts on others. While this isn’t entirely unusual, it is frustrating.
- Data collection was completed for Long-term monitoring efforts at East and West Flower Garden Banks and Stetson Bank. In addition, a new monitoring program was started at High Island A-389A, the gas production platform located within sanctuary boundaries.
- A mass mortality event was discovered by recreational divers at East Flower Garden Bank. We still haven’t figured out the cause, but the investigation is ongoing. Check out the latest news.
- As of late August, coral bleaching had begun in parts of the Flower Garden Banks. While some level of bleaching in late summer is not unusual due to elevated ocean temperatures, we try to keep an eye on it to gauge the severity and long-term consequences.
- Additional ROV exploration was conducted at several banks under consideration for sanctuary expansion with the help of the University of North Carolina Wilmington-Undersea Vehicles Program and the Mohawk ROV. We also conducted additional deepwater monitoring in areas around East, West and Stetson Banks.
- The second Lionfish Invitational took place aboard M/V FLING. Twenty-two recreational divers removed 394 lionfish over four days of diving, and an eight-person science team conducted pre- and post-removal surveys of each area.
With any luck, the field season isn’t quite over. We have three more trips on our October calendar and an optimistic outlook!