This photograph depicts the landscape of the West and East Flower Garden Banks. It illustrates the high coral coverage (around 50%), and competition for space between colonies - some of the dominant species are shown:: great star coral (Montastraea cavernosa)( M. franksii) the star coral that is dotted with embedding barnacles, bounder brain coral (Colpophyllia natans), and symmetrical brain coral (Diploria strigosa.) The sandy valleys found at the West Bank may indicate ancient spur and groove formations - typical of shallow reef systems. These sandy areas are favorite resting places for loggerhead sea turtles (Caretta caretta), and habitat for queen conch (Strombus gigas). Image courtesy of Islands in the Stream 2001, Frank and Joyce Burek, NOAA/OER.