Archive for October, 2012

Wildlife/Recreation: Who Owned That Shell?

Wednesday, October 24th, 2012

Spirula Shell from

Spirula Shell from

Passport to Texas with support from the WSFR Program

Before you sell seashells by the seashore, you first have to find them. Surprisingly, summer beachcombing may not yield the results you desire.

03—I feel the best time to go shelling is in the wintertime.

Paul Hammerschmidt, with coastal fisheries, is a lifelong and—admittedly obsessive—shell collector. He says winter storms churn up the Gulf bottom, sending marine critters and their calciferous containments onto the beach. To improve your chances of finding a variety of intact shells, Hammerschmidt says stay clear of crowded beaches.

12—If you get a chance to go to some more isolated beaches, like down on Padres island, or something like that, where the population of humans is not quite so thick, you’ll have a much better chance of finding some really unusual shells.

Such as a pretty little shell called baby ears—which looks like…well…baby ears. Or, there’s another special shell worth searching for called spirula.

19—And it’s a coiled, snail-like shell. But it doesn’t belong to a snail—it belongs to a little squid. And it’s inside the squid, and when the squid dies, that little thing has a lot of chambers in it with gas, and it floats and washes up on the beach. Those are very pretty, bright white, and they’re very fragile, so you have to be careful with them.

This winter, instead of heading to the slopes for skiing, head to the beach for shelling…you can still have hot cocoa when you’re done.

That’s our show for today…remember: life’s better outside…For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Wildlife/Recreation: Shell Collecting

Tuesday, October 23rd, 2012

File photo Texas Parks and Wildlife

File photo Texas Parks and Wildlife

Passport to Texas with support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

Nobody thinks twice about collecting shells from the beach. But I started to wonder if it’s really okay since beaches are public land.

08—It’s okay to collect shells. The ones that are broken and come apart, they create the sand that’s out there, but there is no law against it [collecting].

Paul Hammerschmidt, with coastal fisheries, is a lifelong shell collector. He says collect responsibly to avoid creating problems for the environment or marine animals.

05—I highly recommend that you only take shells that are from dead animals—not live animals.

How can you determine if something is still alive? In the case of the popular sand dollar, small spines cover the shells of living animals…so look for smooth, spineless shells. If, like me, you’ve never found a sand dollar on the beach—there’s good reason for it.

18—I think it’s because everybody wants to get a sand dollar. And, too, they’re another very fragile shell. And when the waves are strong, they’ll get broken up, and you’ll just see fragments of them. A lot of times, the best time to find a sand dollar, is after a storm—and then very early in the morning—before anybody else gets out on the beach.

When and where to go shelling on tomorrow’s show.

Our series receives support from the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program …funding diverse conservation projects throughout Texas…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

State Parks: Biking in Parks

Monday, October 22nd, 2012

Image from Window on State Government

Image from Window on State Government

This is Passport to Texas

Cooler fall temperatures may have you chomping at the bit to get on your bicycle and ride. When the spirit moves you, our state park guide Bryan Frasier suggests you hit the trails at one of our state parks.

56— If you like extreme, challenging mountain biking on single track trails, you can really get out and get a workout and see some of the most unique and beautiful scenery in Texas on a bicycle. Let’s say you want something that’s rugged and enjoyable but not necessarily an epic ride; well, we have that, too. We even have paved flat surfaces and road surfaces that people can just enjoy seeing nature from two wheels. And a few tips we might give to people before they go out is make sure their bike is in good shape, that their tires are inflated, that their gears, and cables, and chains have been checked out recently so that they’re safe. And make sure they take their biking helmet. Always take at least one bottle of water. Get your biking map in hand, and they’re available – the site maps are available – at all of the headquarters at all of the state parks. Plan your route and see how much fun biking can be at a state park.

Thanks Bryan

That’s our show for today…with funding provided by Chevrolet, supporting outdoor recreation in Texas; because there’s life to be done.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Habitat: Wetlands — Value Beyond Measure

Friday, October 19th, 2012

Image from

Image from

This is Passport to Texas sponsored by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program

With a couple of months of hurricane season 2012 remaining, it’s important to remember lessons from the past. We learned seven years ago from Katrina that abundant, healthy wetlands may have helped to moderate the storm surge that devastated the city.

12 –I think there’s a greater appreciation now than ever before of the values that wetlands provide. At least from the standpoint of improving water quality and storm abatement and attenuation of flood flows.

Nathan Kuhn is a wetland ecologist at Texas Parks and Wildlife. He explains how wetlands buffer coastlines from the overwhelming impact of storms.

36 – They basically block the winds and tides and everything else when these hurricanes come in. They’re essentially a buffer. It slowly reduces storm surges as you go farther inland, and it also reduces – just in general – the power of a hurricane. You know how hurricanes always lose power as they’re going over Florida? It’s because they’ve made landfall. Warm water is the driver for hurricanes; and once they hit the land then they lose power. That’s why they lose strength, it’s because they’re no longer getting fuel anymore. That’s the value of wetlands. If you have them way out in the gulf of Mexico from where your house is, then by the time it hits your house it’ll already have lost a lot of steam.

And that can mean the difference between minor structural damage and losing everything.

That’s our show for today… made possible by the Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program… providing funding for wetland conservation through the Private Lands Enhancement Program.

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.

Habitat: Wetlands — A Natural Buffer

Thursday, October 18th, 2012

Wetland image from

Wetland image from

This is Passport to Texas supported by the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration Program

Wetland ecologist Nathan Kuhn says a wetland is an area that’s neither open water nor dry land.

08—The wetland is a transitional area. So, basically you’re talking about an area where the soil’s saturated for at least two weeks or more a year.

Kuhn says acre per acre wetlands pack a huge ecological punch.

15—Without them, in many cases, we would not have the shrimp, or the speckled trout, or whatever, that a lot of people go to the Texas coast to enjoy. So, there are a lot of invisible values of these wetlands that people don’t necessarily realize unless they were gone.

At least half are gone because we don’t understand their value. We fill and develop wetland areas so homeowners can have gulf views. The impact of this loss mostly goes unnoticed, until nature sends a force like a hurricane crashing against our shores.

03—We’re paying the price for losing half of our coastal wetlands.

Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of the Hart Research Institute says healthy wetlands could have lessened some of the damage of hurricane Katrina.

15–Because, if I understand some of the analysis, we could have taken up to two foot off the top of that storm surge if our wetlands had been intact in that area. And there’s a huge difference between an 18-foot storm surge and a 20-foot storm surge as, unfortunately, many people know. So those wetlands act as a natural barrier for us.

That’s our show for today… made possible by a grant from the Wildlife and Sportfish Restoration program…

For Texas Parks and Wildlife…I’m Cecilia Nasti.