Archive for the 'Saltwater' Category

The Kraken Serves Texas as an Artificial Reef

Wednesday, March 29th, 2017
The Kraken on the way down to the gulf floor to become an artificial reef.

The Kraken on the way down to the gulf floor to become an artificial reef.

This is Passport to Texas

On Jan. 20th, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program sank a 371-ft cargo vessel, named The Kraken, more than 60 miles off the coast of Galveston. Alison Baldwin is an Artificial Reef technician.

Because Texas [gulf floor] doesn’t have a lot of structure, it makes it hard to for fishermen to fish because fish really enjoy structure. So any time we put structure out here, it’s really good for fishermen and divers.

Program Leader, Dale Shively, says the Kraken, which began life in 1987 as a Japanese cargo ship, was cleaned of fuel, oil and hazardous materials before being deployed into gulf waters.

We’re at our reef site, about 65 miles out of Galveston. We’re trying to maneuver into a deep water spot that’s at least 140 feet deep.

To facilitate a controlled flood to sink the ship, Baldwin says work crews cut four large holes into the its hull.

Water will rush into the stern, and we’re hoping that the stern touches the bottom first, and all that super structure will fill with water, and it will bring the bow down nice and slow.

Everything progressed flawlessly, because of the planning and preparation that went into it beforehand.

As soon as we sink the ship, there should be fish on it in minutes—which is really exciting.

Since 1990, the artificial reef program has documented more than 200 marine fish species that make these complex, stable and durable habitats home.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Fighting the Threat of Lionfish in Texas

Tuesday, February 7th, 2017
Beautiful but deadly lionfish. Image from Harte Research Institute.

Beautiful but deadly lionfish. Image from Harte Research Institute.

This is Passport to Texas

With amazing appetites and reproductive abilities, lionfish are a growing threat to native Texas marine life.

Everybody agreed lionfish was a problem, but we weren’t working together. And that’s always a challenge, because this is not going to be fixed by biologists.

Leslie Hartman, Matagorda Bay Program Leader, said during last year’s Lone Star Lionfish symposium organizations worked together to address this issue.

We brought together engineers, biologists, legal professionals, including enforcement and lawyers. We brought in oil, shrimpers…academicians. We brought in a roboticist expert. All this, because you cannot fix the lionfish issue with a single, non-existent silver bullet.

Participants developed seven parameters of need, including funding, research, and regulation—and assigned each one an approximate cost and pragmatic rating.

Using these approximate costs and the pragmatic rating, things should float to the top. [We can say] this is a really good value, and it’s really practical. So this would be something that we would rate high. All of this is to create a unified state plan. And we’re going to be able to disseminate it to the universities, and the engineers, and the regulators, and say: ‘this is what a whole bunch of experts determined as being the most appropriate way to go about this, so that it can be most effective.’

The Second Annual Lone Star Lionfish Symposium is February 15 & 16.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series.

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

The Problem with Lionfish

Monday, February 6th, 2017
Pretty but deadly to native aquatic species.

Pretty but deadly to native aquatic species.

This is Passport to Texas

The lionfish, native to the Pacific Ocean, is a common species in the aquarium trade.

But a couple of them have gotten loose

Leslie Hartman—Matagorda Bay Program Leader—says lionfish wasted no time getting busy making more of their kind.

They get to reproductive age in one year. They breed every four days. They can be found in an inch of water. They can be found in 12-hunderd feet of water. These guys are really super successful. And they’re Americanized. They’re willing to eat past the point when they’re full, until they get fat.

And what they eat are native marine species.

We’re really concerned about how many of our fish, shrimp and crabs their eating. In the Caribbean—and they’ve been there quite a number of years before us—a single Lionfish on a little coral reef, consumed 80% of that season’s young.

Because of their voracious appetites, their reproductive prowess, and the fact that they haven’t any predators…

We’re really concerned long term for the effect it’s going to have on all of our fisheries. Whether it’s the commercial shrimp and blue crab, whether it’s the recreational snapper, redfish, trout—we just know we need to be concerned.

Tomorrow Leslie Hartman tells us about what’s being done to prevent lionfish from becoming a problem in Texas.

The Sport fish restoration program supports our series.

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

2017 Crab Trap Cleanup

Thursday, February 2nd, 2017
Derelict crab traps collected from Chocolate Bayou.

Derelict crab traps collected from Chocolate Bayou.

This is Passport to Texas

Commercial crab fishermen use baited wire traps to lure their prey. Sometimes traps end up missing due to storms, or they are simply discarded.

These traps continue ghost fishing for months or years—capturing fish and other marine creatures, including endangered species—taking an environmental and economic toll on gulf fisheries.

In February of 2002, Texas Parks and Wildlife conducted the first abandoned crab trap removal program; and 2017 marks the 15th cleanup. During a 10-day period this month, volunteers like you, will join Texas Parks and Wildlife staff and partners, in removing derelict traps.

This year’s cleanup is February 17th through the 26th. The big cleanup “push” is Saturday, February 18 from 10 to noon. This is the only time citizens may remove these traps from gulf waters.

More than 32,000 derelict crab traps have been removed from the gulf since 2002, saving tens of thousands of marine organisms.

Texas Parks and Wildlife and partners facilitate roughly 20 sites coast wide and provide disposal facilities, and supply volunteers with tarps, gloves, crab trap hooks and other items.

To volunteer for this year’s program visit the Abandoned Crab Trap Removal page on the Texas Parks and Wildlife website.

The Sport Fish restoration Program supports our series.

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

Using Baits and Lures to Your Advantage

Tuesday, January 31st, 2017
Baits and lures are an angler's friend.

Baits and lures are an angler’s friend.

This is Passport to Texas

Nothing beats live bait for catching fish. Yet, manmade lures have been around a long time—because they work.

For example, take the spinner bait. The spinning blades are designed to catch a fish’s attention as they move through the water. The flashing silver looks just like a tasty minnow.

Steve Campbell worked in Outreach and Education at Texas Parks and Wildlife, specializing in angler education.

Another popular lure is the top water lure. Because it floats on top of the water, it works best in calm waters where it is visible to fish below. To use a top water…cast…wait for the bait to settle, and then pop your rod tip; repeat until you get a strike.

The crankbait is a fun lure to work with. It has a kind lip that extends from the front of the lure.

This lip causes the bait to dive down through the water as you crank on the reel. As soon as you cast your crankbait, turn the reel quickly a couple of times so the lip will catch the water and pull down. Stop reeling, and the lure begins to float back up. Your goal is to imitate an injured fish darting through the water.

Lures come in all shapes and sizes, and your tackle dealer can help you select the right lures for your next fishing trip.

And remember: while natural bait is best, it’s always a good idea to keep a couple of lures on hand when you get tired of feeding—I mean catching—the fish.

The Sport Fish restoration program supports our series.

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