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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!

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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

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