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Flower Gardening Underwater Reef. Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary is located 70 to 115 miles off the coasts of Texas and Louisiana. The Flower Garden Banks were discovered by snapper and grouper fishermen in the late 1800's. They named the banks after the brightly colored sponges, plants, and other marine life they could see on the colorful reefs below their boats. The sanctuary includes underwater communities that rise from the depths of the Gulf of Mexico atop underwater mountains called salt domes. Visitors can enjoy diving and fishing in the rich habitat that lies beneath the surface. It has some great coral and sponge habitats, different types of fish, sea turtles, and GORGEOUS fragile reefs. They offer boat visits, public programs, education, conservation, and so much more. Meet the outreach director for a fascinating look at this beautiful resource close to Houston! The National Marine Sanctuary System protects water, a vital resource. Sanctuary National marine sanctuaries are ideal destinations for travelers who enjoy a diversity of recreational activities. Plan your visit. Learn how to get involved and volunteer to help to ensure marine sanctuaries remain America's underwater treasures for future generations.