Galveston, Texas: Importance of Fisheries, Marshes, and Estuaries

Updated on May 24, 2018
Peggy W profile image

I live in Houston, and I have worked as a nurse. My interests include art, traveling, reading, gardening, cooking, and our wonderful pets.

Patsy B Shrimp Boat in Galveston
Patsy B Shrimp Boat in Galveston | Source

Shrimp Boats

An abundance of shrimp boats is commonly seen in this coastal city. This is in addition to other fishing and pleasure boats in and around this aquatic wonderland. Shrimping is one of the most important industries for people all along the Gulf of Mexico's coastline. Many shrimpers have Galveston as their home port.

In Galveston Bay, three types of shrimp are caught: white, pink, and brown. Each type of shrimp seems to migrate in and out of the deeper waters of the Gulf of Mexico at different times of the year. By far the largest catch consists of the brown shrimp. Many millions of pounds of shrimp are caught annually.

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Shrimp Boats in GalvestonShrimp Boats in GalvestonGalveston, TexasPelicans in Galveston WatersShrimp Boat, Galveston, Texas
Shrimp Boats in Galveston
Shrimp Boats in Galveston | Source
Shrimp Boats in Galveston
Shrimp Boats in Galveston | Source
Galveston, Texas
Galveston, Texas | Source
Pelicans in Galveston Waters
Pelicans in Galveston Waters | Source
Shrimp Boat, Galveston, Texas
Shrimp Boat, Galveston, Texas | Source

Shrimping Industry

Shrimp is one of the most popular seafood items eaten annually by people from all around the world. Wild shrimp are generally preferred as they have a better flavor than farm raised ones.

Shrimp are caught in dragnets or large trawl nets. Winches hoist the nets with the catch of the day onto the shrimp boats. It is hard work on the part of the people making their living by way of doing that. This video below by a Louisiana shrimper shows how it is accomplished.

TEDs

Since 1989, shrimpers have been required to use TEDs (turtle excluder devices) in their nets. Prior to that sea turtles were being ensnared in these nets and many of them died as a result.

Of the five species of sea turtles in the Gulf of Mexico, all are endangered and/or threatened. These include the following:

  • Kemp's Ridley
  • Loggerhead
  • Green
  • Leatherback
  • Hawksbill

The other two species of sea turtles found in the world are the Olive Ridley, found primarily in the Pacific and lower Atlantic, and the Flatback sea turtles seen in areas around Australia and New Guinea.

Other types of excluder devices can also be used by shrimpers (in addition to the TEDs) to exclude the needless killing of other sea inhabitants. Sadly, some of those deaths are an unavoidable side effect of trawling for shrimp.

Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta carreta) escaping a net equipped with a turtle excluder device (TED).
Loggerhead Turtle (Caretta carreta) escaping a net equipped with a turtle excluder device (TED). | Source

Sea Turtle Fact

Did you know that the sex of sea turtles is determined by the temperature of the sand from which they emerge from the nest? If the temperature is above 85 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius) the turtle is likely to become a female. Below that temperature male turtles are likely to be formed.

Fishing in Galveston

Recreational fishing is a huge pastime for residents of Galveston, Texas as well as for tourists visiting the area. There are 162 species of fish found in the Gulf of Mexico waters!

Many people have their own boats in or near this coastal city. Statistics show that Galveston has the third largest concentration of recreational boats in all of the United States. That is a lot of boats!

Our artist buddy and friend Charles Criner spends much of his leisure time fishing. He has created some wonderful pieces of art based upon that pastime. Much of the fishing he does is from the shoreline or from fishing piers.

Fishing charter packages are offered from different companies. Pricing depends upon how long a trip is desired and how far out to sea one wishes to go. Custom packages are also available. From bay and jetty fishing to deep sea fishing, there are many options available.

Commercial shrimping and fishing in the Gulf of Mexico provides income for many a family. Fully one third of all the seafood caught in the Gulf comes through Galveston.

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GALVESTON, Texas (Oct. 5, 2013) - Nearly 80 children participate in the first Fishin' 4 Fun Kids Fishing Tournament at Seawolf Park. Galveston Fishing Pier, Galveston, TX Deep Sea Fishing CharterDeep Sea Fishing
GALVESTON, Texas (Oct. 5, 2013) - Nearly 80 children participate in the first Fishin' 4 Fun Kids Fishing Tournament at Seawolf Park.
GALVESTON, Texas (Oct. 5, 2013) - Nearly 80 children participate in the first Fishin' 4 Fun Kids Fishing Tournament at Seawolf Park. | Source
Galveston Fishing Pier, Galveston, TX
Galveston Fishing Pier, Galveston, TX | Source
Deep Sea Fishing Charter
Deep Sea Fishing Charter | Source
Deep Sea Fishing
Deep Sea Fishing | Source
Source

Dining on Seafood

If you are hungry for some good shrimp or seafood, this city has numerous wonderful restaurants serving up those deliciously prepared delicacies. The seafood is certainly fresh being harvested right out of the Gulf of Mexico!

If you are there at the right time of year perhaps you can enjoy the Galveston Island Wild Texas Shrimp Festival held in the fall of the year. There are numerous such festivals and events held on the island almost every month of the year.

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Fried seafood platterShrimp and Catfish PlatterUltimate Seafood PlatterSeafood plateSeafood platter.
Fried seafood platter
Fried seafood platter | Source
Shrimp and Catfish Platter
Shrimp and Catfish Platter | Source
Ultimate Seafood Platter
Ultimate Seafood Platter | Source
Seafood plate
Seafood plate | Source
Seafood platter.
Seafood platter. | Source

Importance of Estuaries and Marshlands

The estuaries, marshlands, and tidal creek areas around Galveston are vital ecosystems. They provide needed sanctuaries for sea creatures as they find shelter, reproduce, and grow into larger specimens that can then migrate out into the open waters.

Many important animal species can be found in them including seabirds, fish, and shellfish. Unique plant life in these saltwater marshes helps to reduce pollution as well as stabilizing shorelines.

Driving down Interstate Highway 45 before going over the bridge to the island one passes many of these important marshy areas. If you are unfamiliar with the importance of estuaries and salt marshes, be sure to take a look at the video below.

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A small part of a much larger salt marsh as you near Galveston on US Highway 45Marsh Land near Galveston Bay
A small part of a much larger salt marsh as you near Galveston on US Highway 45
A small part of a much larger salt marsh as you near Galveston on US Highway 45 | Source
Marsh Land near Galveston Bay
Marsh Land near Galveston Bay | Source

Crabbing

In addition to catching fish, many people also like to go crabbing around Galveston. This can be a fun family leisure activity as well as providing fresh and tasty crabs for the dinner table that day. Blue crabs are the primary ones found in this location. If crabbing is right up your alley, have fun watching this video.

Have you ever gone fishing or crabbing in Galveston?

See results

Oysters

For those individuals who enjoy eating fresh and briny tasting oysters, you will be happy to see this next video about some of the restoration efforts taking place in re-establishing oyster habitats.

There is so much more to Galveston than merely its beaches, historical homes, churches, UTMB medical school, and many tourist attractions. Those are important and certainly add to the enjoyment of visiting or living in this Gulf Coast city, but they aren't all the city has to offer.

Equally vital are the natural features of the land and seacoast that nurture emerging sea creatures and sustain a thriving fishing industry and sportsman's paradise.

Questions & Answers

    © 2018 Peggy Woods

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      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hello Sneha Sunny,

        So happy to know that you liked learning a bit about Galveston, the turtle excluder nets and more. Your comment is appreciated.

      • Sneha Sunny profile image

        Sneha Sunny 4 weeks ago from India

        Loved learning about a new place. I love seafood and the seafood platter totally distracted me for a while.

        Good to know that the people are using TEDs to avoid accidental turtle deaths. :)

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Jackie,

        Galveston is only about 70 miles from where we live in west Houston. So it is an easy drive for day tripping to Galveston and back. Yes we have many good things around us.

      • Jackie Lynnley profile image

        Jackie Lynnley 4 weeks ago from The Beautiful South

        So glad to hear the turtles are protected. Bout as prehistoric as anything we have I think.

        So interesting and if this is near where you live too you must be one satisfied lady. Such good things all around you!

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi manatita44,

        We have a drainage ditch that runs through our subdivision in a greenbelt area where we have on occasion seen children hunting for crawfish. Seabirds are also seen this far inland. We are only about 70 miles from Galveston from where we live.

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 4 weeks ago from london

        Yes, sometimes I did!

        I caught crayfish in the rivers, not the sea. Glad to know that it is popular there.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi manatita44,

        Thanks for the compliment on this Galveston piece about its industries.

        Crawfish / Crayfish is very popular here also. Most of the commercial crayfish served in restaurants in Houston comes from Louisiana where they have huge crawfish farms. We see evidence of them everywhere when walking around here. It is easy to spot those mud tunnels that they build.

        Catching crabs by hand must have been fun. I wonder if you ever got your fingers pinched by their claws?

      • manatita44 profile image

        manatita44 4 weeks ago from london

        You do an amazing job Peggy. If you do not yet work in the tourist industry, you should consider it.

        Prior to 1980 or '81, I believe I had some shrimps on Florida.

        I grew up with them in the Caribbean and Crayfish was another delicacy of mines. I also caught crabs both in traps and pushing my hands down the holes on the beach. Things we do as children!

        You have done another excellent piece on Galveston and its many industries.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Audrey,

        Like you I found that "turtle fact" interesting as well. I guess I am doing a good job describing Galveston if it is now on your bucket list. (Smile)

      • vocalcoach profile image

        Audrey Hunt 4 weeks ago from Idyllwild Ca.

        You've produced another winner! I feel as though I've been on vacation. Great photos. I found the "Turtle Fact" very interesting. Galveston is now on my bucket list. Thanks Peggy.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Linda,

        Galveston is indeed an interesting place. I agree that it is sad that some other creatures in the sea are ensnared in shrimp nets. At least with the turtle excluder nets those endangered turtles are given a chance to go on living.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi C E Clark,

        I am so happy that you learned more about the importance of estuaries and that you are sharing it on Facebook. Thanks!

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Peg,

        Those turtle excluder nets also let some other sea creatures escape of which I am glad.

        That is interesting that you used to go shrimping in Florida using long poles. Did they have a net on the end of them? Did you use bait to attract them? You can tell that I know nothing about catching shrimp in the manner that you did.

      • AliciaC profile image

        Linda Crampton 4 weeks ago from British Columbia, Canada

        Galveston certainly sounds like an interesting place. I was very glad to read that the shrimpers use turtle excluder devices. It was sad to hear that some animal deaths are unavoidable when shrimp are caught, though.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Mary,

        We have a long coastline in Texas and get a lot of fresh seafood.

      • Au fait profile image

        C E Clark 4 weeks ago from North Texas

        Another very interesting informative article! Really enjoyed the video on estuaries and it set me straight about exactly what they are. I had thought they were mainly places for birds to nest and raise their young, but I learned that all kinds of fish and sea creatures as well as mammals and birds depend on estuaries. An excellent article and I'm sharing it on FB.

      • PegCole17 profile image

        Peg Cole 4 weeks ago from Dallas, Texas

        This was educational as well as quite interesting. Sea turtles are among my favorite creatures and I'm glad to see there are some safety features in place for their escape from shrimp nets.

        We used to go shrimping in Florida but it was off low lying bridges working by hand with long poles catching one or two at a time.

      • aesta1 profile image

        Mary Norton 4 weeks ago from Ontario, Canada

        I love crabs and all kinds of seafood so this would be a place of interest for me. I don't know why I have never associated Texas with seafood.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Patricia,

        It is so nice of your daughter to help some of the sea turtle nesting sites.

        Galveston must truly hold some special memories for you from what you shared about your brother-in-law's life being celebrated there.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Bill,

        You are correct. There was a disastrous oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico several years ago. People all along the gulf shore waters worked feverishly along with the efforts of British Petroleum to clean it up.

        People responsible for those oil rigs generally do everything possible to help protect not only their workers but also the environment. Sometimes there are misses as we all know.

      • pstraubie48 profile image

        Patricia Scott 4 weeks ago from sunny Florida

        So glad to hear of the nets that do not ensnare sea turtles. My daughter is a huge fan of them and has done much work to help protect eggs along beaches. Galveston holds a special place in my heart...when my sister who lives in Austin lost her husband about 7 years ago the family about 20 us traveled to Galveston where we celebrated his life.

        thanks for sharing this article Angels and blessings and hugs are on the way ps

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi FlourishAnyway,

        It is nice that a friend of yours volunteers to help save sea turtles since so many of them are on the endangered list. Thanks for commenting on this Galveston post.

      • billybuc profile image

        Bill Holland 4 weeks ago from Olympia, WA

        Beautiful country....any problem with oil refineries and the estuaries? Seems like I remember an oil spill not too long ago...maybe that was a different city.

      • FlourishAnyway profile image

        FlourishAnyway 4 weeks ago from USA

        Although I don’t eat seafood, my husband does and he’d love Galveston for that reason as much as I’d love to visit for the architecture, beaches, and nature. I have a special place in my heart for sea turtles, as I once toured a rescue facility where an acquaintance volunteered.

      • Peggy W profile image
        Author

        Peggy Woods 4 weeks ago from Houston, Texas

        Hi Frank,

        Glad that this resurrected memories of clamming for you when you were a boy with your dad. Must have been fun. There are probably people who do not realize the importance of estuaries and salt marshes. Happy to be able to share that information with them as well about the way turtles emerge as females or males from their nests in the sand.

      • Frank Atanacio profile image

        Frank Atanacio 4 weeks ago from Shelton

        brought back memories.. when I went clamming as a small boy with my dad.. didn't know that fact about the sea turtles... I'm not much of a sea food eater.. but now and again I do try them.. I also do understand the importance of the marshes and the Estuaries and how important they are to the eco system and the environment.. this was educational Peggy.. and as always a fun read..

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