What is the mission of the Flower Garden Banks 2019 expedition?

This three-week expedition to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) will use our Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Yogi to explore mesophotic coral reefs in the Sanctuary. Mesophotic coral reefs are found between 130 and 490 feet where there is little sunlight. Recreational SCUBA divers can only go to 130 feet, so these corals are difficult to study without special equipment. This will be the first time mesophotic coral spawning will be observed in the FGBNMS. 

Where is the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary?

The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is located 100 nautical miles offshore of Galveston, Texas. 

Images: USGS, NOAA

When and how can I watch the dives?

We will be diving from about 8:00 a.m. – 5:00 pm Central Time each day, weather permitting, with the exception of the coral spawning week (see below). There are three separate cruise legs of 5 days each and dates are as follows:

Leg 1: August 14-18 Dives generally 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Central Time

Leg 2: August 21-25 All times in Central Time (CT)

Aug 21 – Dive 1: 8:00 am to 1:00 pm; Dive 2: 7:00 pm to 11:00 pm
Aug 22 – 4:00 pm to 1:00 am
Aug 23 – 4:00 pm to 1:00 am
Aug 24 – 4:00 pm to 1:00 am
Aug 25 – 9:00 am to noon

Leg 3: August 28 – September 1 Dives generally 8:00 am – 5:00 pm Central Time.
Please note that the last day of each leg is a half-day so the ship can head back to port for crew rest, refueling and provisioning. You can watch the dives live on our homepage.

Who is the Global Foundation for Ocean Exploration?

We are a team of engineers, filmmakers, and educators whose mission is to explore. We support underwater science by creating the technologies that enable scientists to access the deep waters of the world. We are a nonprofit organization based in Connecticut.

How am I seeing video from the bottom of the ocean?

You are able to see the live video through the capability of telepresence. Anyone with internet access can watch the video. Footage from the camera on ROV Yogi is sent through a cable up to an antenna system called a VSAT (Very Small Aperture Terminal) on R/V MANTA. The signal is then sent to a satellite, which in turn sends the signal over the internet and into your home or educational facility. Scientists are also watching live from shore and are able to call in to participate in the dive.

Image: GFOE

What is ROV Yogi?  

Remotely Operated Vehicle (ROV) Yogi is a 1,100 pound robot that is capable of diving to 4,920 feet (1,500 meters). It is equipped with high-definition cameras, a manipulator arm to collect samples, state-of-the-art imaging sonar, and other instruments needed to explore deep waters. You can learn more about ROV Yogi here

Image: Dave Lovalvo, GFOE

How deep will ROV Yogi be diving in the Flower Garden Banks?

The planned diving depths for this expedition are between 100 and 500 feet. 

What is the R/V MANTA

Research Vessel MANTA has been the research vessel for FGBNMS since June 2008. She is an 82-foot long Teknicraft aluminum catamaran capable of berthing 10 science personnel and 4 crew members. The R/V MANTA’s A-frame and winch configuration is the perfect platform for ROV exploration. You can learn more about R/V MANTA here.

When will the coral spawning happen?

While nature may have its own plans, scientists predict that the largest amount of coral spawning will happen the night of August 22, starting around 8:30 pm Central Time.

All I see is blue water. Where is the coral?

While ROV Yogi is descending or ascending, you may only see blue water, which is the water column. If the ROV is descending, you will see the bottom in just a few minutes if there are no technical errors. If the ROV is ascending, you can return later when the vehicle is back in the water. 

Who do I hear speaking during the live dives?

You are listening to scientists and engineers on board the RV Manta, but you may also hear other researchers who call in to the phone line to help narrate the dives.

Can I get involved in the expedition?

Yes! By watching the dive, you are already an ocean explorer! You can also follow along on social media with the hashtag #seathegarden. Tag your coral-watching photos and come explore with us!