An underwater survey mission recently explored the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the coast of Texas in the Gulf of Mexico. This region was first discovered in the 19th century and is known for its varied underwater plant and animal life, as well as its sedimentary salt domes. During a recent tour, crew descended more than 1,500 feet to investigate whether the sanctuary could be expanded.
As the Associated Press describes, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) may add vast amounts of territory to the current boundaries of the Garden, more than quadrupling the 56 square miles that make up the sanctuary. Researchers used a private submarine from OceanGate to observe the ocean landscape.
The submarine used in this effort, Cyclops 1, seats five people at once and contains a 360-degree camera capable of comprehensively observing the environs. With this technology, users can reduce the amount of camera equipment needed for reconnaissance, which is especially useful in preparation for major re-mapping initiatives. This expedition followed a call for input on a possible expansion earlier this year.
The official website of the Flower Garden describes the several different banks contained in the same area of the Gulf. The source says that a warm water Gulf Loop Current, which nourishes the Gulf from the south.
"All of these banks are part of a regional ecosystem, heavily influenced by current patterns within the Gulf," the site says. "Inflows from the large watershed that drains two-thirds of the continental United States also play a significant role in the health of this region."
Before actual work begins on an underwater project, operators may need to deploy surveyors and ROVs to assess the state of the land. Companies should think carefully about marine crew insurance for a greater guarantee that it will be the right choice.