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Stetson Bank

Photo Credit: Frank and Joyce Burek
From: NOAA, 2002; GEMS-FGBNMS, 2003

Stetson Bank is located 48 km northwest of the Flower Gardens. It was added to the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS) in October 1996. The sanctuary serves as a biological reservoir of Caribbean species in the northern Gulf of Mexico. Temperatures at Stetson Bank are a few degrees cooler in winter than in the Flower Gardens. The bank supports an extraordinary fish community. Recreational scuba diving and fishing are common activities within the sanctuary. Some parts of the sanctuary are grandfathered in for oil and gas production.

Stetson Bank

Location on Continental Shelf:   Mid-Shelf Bank
Coordinates:   28.15° N   94.28° W
Nearest Largest City:   Galveston, Texas, USA

Selected Characteristics:
Area of Coverage:   3 km2
Width:   0.3 km
Length:   0.8 km
Minimum Temperature:   18oC
Maximum Temperature:   30oC
Minimum Salinity:   31 ppt
Maximum Salinity:   36 ppt

Community Structure:
The cooler winter temperature at Stetson Bank relative to the Flower Gardens prevents coral reefs to thrive. Instead, scattered coral colonies with a dominant sponge community occur.

Geological Characterization:
Stetson Bank is a surface expression of salt diapers capped by uplifted layers of claystone and sandstone, which have eroded at unequal rates to create a strange "moonscape" appearance. It is among the smallest of the mid-shelf banks in the northern Gulf of Mexico. It is a pelagic zone feature with clay/siltstone bedrock.

Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary.2003. URL:


NOAA. 2002. The State of Coral Reef Ecosystems of the United States and Pacific Freely Associated States. URL:

Additional Information:
GEMS - Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)
National Marine Sanctuaries
Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary (FGBNMS)
The National Marine Sanctuaries
Gulf of Mexico Region - Environmental Information

Keywords:   Coral, Sponge, Bank, Salt diaper, Fish community

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