Archive for the 'Saltwater' Category

Dead Zones Tell No Tales

Tuesday, October 22nd, 2019
Gulf of Mexico

Gulf of Mexico

This is Passport to Texas

Every year the Gulf of Mexico endures Dead Zones. Areas of low-oxygenated water where animals suffocate and die.

The condition is called hypoxia, and scientists estimate this year’s dead zone could be one of the largest ever, already at nearly 8,000 square miles just off the coast of Louisiana and Texas.

An abnormal number of spring rains and floods saturated the Midwest, leaving farmland unsuitable for planting. The nitrogen and phosphorus-rich fertilizer with which farmers had prepped the land washed directly into the Mississippi river.

This bumper amount of fertilizer along with urban runoff created an explosion of phytoplankton growth at the coast.

And while Phytoplankton are the foundation of the aquatic food chain, too much phytoplankton decomposing at once can completely devoid the water of oxygen.

The impact is deadly on any aquatic life that cannot easily swim away such as shrimp, crabs, clams and oysters. Those that do survive can be toxic table fare for humans.

Task forces at the state and federal level are continually working to monitor and reduce the number of nutrients entering the Gulf. Scientists are hopeful on-going research will help shape environmental policy, that in turn can reduce the size of dead zones.

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

TPW TV–The Kraken Revisited

Thursday, September 26th, 2019

The Kraken doing its job as an artificial reef.

This is Passport to Texas

Early in 2017, Texas Parks and Wildlife’s Artificial Reef Program created a new underwater oasis for marine life by using a 371-foot cargo ship called The Kraken; sunk about 65 miles off the coast of Galveston.

Seven months after sending the Kraken to the gulf sea floor, biologists returned to investigate what has become one of the state’s largest artificial reefs.

What we’re going to see, we don’t know until we get down there.

Dale Shively oversees the artificial reef program for Texas Parks and Wildlife.

It only takes them a few months to get a significant amount of marine growth. [Chris Ledford] There’s a lot of fish on that ship.

Texas Parks and Wildlife artificial reef specialist Chris Ledford says prior to reefing the Kraken, biologists witnessed a couple of sharks in the area, but no reef species. And now it’s teeming with marine life.

I wasn’t expecting it to proliferate that much, that quickly after sinking. Considering the ship has only been down here for 6 months, it’s got a lot a lot of productivity going on. We’re really happy with the way its progressing. I don’t think it really could have gone any better than what it’s showing up to be. It looks great. It’s really cool.

See the reefing of The Kraken, and the results, on the Texas Parks and Wildlife TV series on PBS the week of October 6. The new season of this award-winning series begins the week of October 13. Check your local listings.

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

Hatchery Raised Sea Trout for Better Fishing

Wednesday, August 14th, 2019

Sunrise on a jetty, ready to catch dinner.

This is Passport to Texas

Regulation changes to spotted sea trout, like bag and size limits, is an important tool in our tool box for managing saltwater fish species. A robust a hatchery program is another.

Spotted seatrout is this most popular recreational sportfish out there. So, there’s a lot of pressure on these fish.

Ashley Fincannon is hatchery manager at the Marine Development Center in Corpus Christi; it’s there where they, raise spotted seatrout for stocking…specifically to the Lower Laguna Madre. That bay system also has a five-fish daily bag limit.

The Lower Laguna Madre was the first bay system to go under the five-fish limit and that was when we really ramped up our contribution down there.

Earlier this year, Texas Parks and Wildlife proposed a new regulation to change the bag limit in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake on the upper coast from 10 fish a day to five—as it is in all other bay systems. That’s a good thing.

Anecdotally I know I’ve heard from the fishermen when you go stock that they are catching larger trout now and that the trout fishing is better than ever in the Lower Laguna Madre.

The new bag limits go into effect September first. Learn how we regulate and raise spotted sea trout and also find a tasty recipe for it on our podcast Under the Texas Sky; find it wherever you get your podcasts.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our Series.

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

Spotted Sea Trout Regulation Change

Tuesday, August 13th, 2019

This is why we fish.

This is Passport to Texas

Their abundance, eagerness to hit natural and artificial baits, and their flavor when cooked make the spotted sea trout popular with coastal anglers like Charles O’Neal.

I am just a guy married to a good woman who allows me to fish 150 plus days a year.

We caught up with Charles in February of this year at a public meeting about changes to fishing regulations for spotted seatrout.

I am a passionate spotted seatrout guy. I fish from Brownsville to Alabama.

Texas Parks and Wildlife proposed a new regulation to change the bag limit in Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake on the upper coast from 10 fish a day to five—as it is in all other bay systems. During that meeting Charles and other anglers made their feelings known to TPW and to the commissioners who made the final decision.

I think after many, many hours of research that this data does not support the reduction.

After careful review, the commission thought differently. But, Charles O’Neal remains a fan.

More recreational anglers need to come to meetings, stand-up, participate in surveys. And go to the public meeting and get involved with TPWD. They’re not bad people. They give me every piece of information I ask for.

Learn how we regulate and raise spotted sea trout and get a great recipe for it on our podcast Under the Texas Sky; wherever you get your podcasts.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our Series.

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

Virus from Imported Bait Shrimp

Thursday, July 4th, 2019
Bait Shrimp

Always be sure to read the package.

This is Passport to Texas

It’s tempting to use frozen shrimp from the grocery store as bait for your next fishing trip…but don’t do it. They may be imported and possibly harmful to our native crustaceans.

We don’t want any kind of imported shrimp being used as bait, because the potential of diseases that could be there that could impact our native stock.

Robert Adami is a TPW coastal fisheries biologist based in Corpus Christi.

One of the diseases we’re concerned with is white spot syndrome virus. We saw this way back in the early 90s in the Asian countries. And then it slowly moved on to Latin American countries. And back in 1995, we did see one [shrimp] farm with a small amount of white spot in South Texas. But we have not seen anything like that since then.

Check labels when buying bait shrimp to verify they’re from the Gulf of Mexico. While farmed shrimp are at highest risk of infection, wild shrimp and crustaceans are not immune. But, humans are.

The white spot virus doesn’t affect humans in any way. The only thing is can affect is the crustaceans: your shrimp, crawfish, crayfish, [crabs]. It won’t even transfer to fishes.

The virus could have severe consequences for native crustaceans if introduced via infected non-native shrimp.

The Sport Fish Restoration Program supports our series.

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