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

I live in Houston and have worked as a nurse. I have a lifelong passion for traveling, nature, and photography (preferably all together!).

Patsy B Shrimp Boat in Galveston

Patsy B Shrimp Boat in Galveston

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.

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.


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).

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.

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.

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.


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.


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.


This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and is not meant to substitute for formal and individualized advice from a qualified professional.

© 2018 Peggy Woods


Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on April 21, 2019:

Hi Dale,

Glad that reading this post gives you topics of conversation to discuss with your local fishermen. You undoubtedly are one of few boaters who does not engage in fishing.

My widowed paternal grandmother lived on a lake and did a lot of fishing. It would have provided food for the table. My dad, who obviously would have been served much of that fish when he was a youth, chose not to eat much of it as an adult. But that is another story.

Dale Anderson from The High Seas on April 20, 2019:

I'm one of the rare live aboard boaters who never goes fishing (so I am told by the rest of the boating community). Enjoyed your hub here and it has given me some topics of conversation to have with the boys down at Club Marina, the local fisherman's bar. Thanks!

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on September 07, 2018:

Hi Ethel,

It is interesting learning that your husband's family has a long history of fishing and so does (or rather did) your city where you live. What has taken the place of fishing in your area?

Your comment about the female turtles made me chuckle. Haha!

Ethel Smith from Kingston-Upon-Hull on September 07, 2018:

My hubby enjoys fishing and his Dad was a trawlerman fishing off the coast of Iceland until the early 1960s. Our city as a long historynwith fishing though most of it is gone now.

Thanks for the Galveson glimpse Peggy. I like that female turtles are hot stuff ;)

Robert Sacchi on August 04, 2018:

Yes, I've been meaning to go fishing but it hasn't happened yet.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 04, 2018:

Hi Robert,

You are correct that other forms of sea life are caught in those trawling nets designed to catch shrimp. Good thing that the TEDs help sea turtles escape. I am pleased that you enjoyed reading this article.

Robert Sacchi on August 03, 2018:

I loved reading this article. Makes me want to go to the seashore. It seems the drawback of catching shrimp is many other sea creatures are killed in the process. I remember watching a documentary that said to get 5 pounds of shrimp they kill 100 pounds of "trash fish". I hope that is an exaggeration. It's good they have provisions in the nets for sea turtles to escape.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on August 03, 2018:

Hi Rajan,

I thought that was interesting also. Sadly many sea turtles, fish, and manatees are being killed off of the west coast of Florida right now because of a red tide. It is also diminishing tourism because of the stench of all of those carcasses. Hope it goes back to normal soon. Those are such lovely beaches in that part of the U.S.

Rajan Singh Jolly from From Mumbai, presently in Jalandhar, INDIA. on August 03, 2018:

Lovely photos and informational videos. Very interesting to learn the sand temperature determines the sex of the sea turtle.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on July 13, 2018:

Hi Patricia,

I remember you telling me about celebrating your brother-in-law's life in Galveston after he had died. Hopefully you were able to also take away good memories of that city at the time. There is so much to enjoy. Sending good wishes your way today.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on July 12, 2018:

Simply adore all of the photos you include with your work ...and of course I am now drooling over the shrimp I just saw. I may have told you this before but the celebration of life we had for my brother in law who died about 6 years ago now was in Galveston. So it has a special place in my heart.

Angels are once again headed your way my friend.

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 26, 2018:

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 from India on May 26, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 23, 2018:

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 from the beautiful south on May 23, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2018:

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 from london on May 22, 2018:

Yes, sometimes I did!

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

Peggy Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 22, 2018:

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 from london on May 22, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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)

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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.

Linda Crampton from British Columbia, Canada on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

Hi Mary,

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

C E Clark from North Texas on May 21, 2018:

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.

Peg Cole from North Dallas, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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.

Mary Norton from Ontario, Canada on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 21, 2018:

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.

Patricia Scott from North Central Florida on May 21, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2018:

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.

Bill Holland from Olympia, WA on May 20, 2018:

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 from USA on May 20, 2018:

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 Woods (author) from Houston, Texas on May 20, 2018:

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 from Shelton on May 20, 2018:

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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