Archive for the 'Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program' Category

Sargassum: Not Pretty, but Useful

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018
Sargassum on Texas Beach, Image © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

Sargassum on Texas Beach, Image © Texas Parks and Wildlife Department

This is Passport to Texas

The arrival of brown colored algae, called sargassum, to Texas beaches is nearly as predictable as the return of the swallows to Capistrano, but not as welcome.

It shows up on the beach, late spring through early summer, and it can be a nuisance to your average partygoer.

Paul Hammerschmidt, formerly with Coastal Fisheries, says tons of sargassum wash up on the Texas coast from the North Atlantic, hindering beachgoer access to the water. Yet, sargassum is far from being a mere nuisance. It provides habitat for other living things.

There are many animals that only live in the sargassum weed in the Sargasso Sea. It also is a nursery area for a whole lot of game fish like Mahi Mahi, Marlin, Sailfish, that type of thing.

On shore, Hammerschmidt says beachcombers discover shells and sea beans in the slimy tangle, as well as live animals. Cities and counties that obtain permits may move the seaweed to help rebuild sand dunes. If you get a hankering to bring home some Sargassum, it does make a good garden fertilizer – with one caveat.

One thing you really do have to do is rinse the saltwater off of it. You don’t want that saltwater in your garden; that’s just not healthy for your garden.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

So Much Sargassum

Monday, March 19th, 2018
Image of Kemp's Ridley resting on Sargassum © Joseph Scarola

Image of Kemp’s Ridley resting on Sargassum © Joseph Scarola

This is Passport to Texas

Every spring and summer, visitors to the coast encounter piles of brown, wet, slimy vegetation on Texas beaches.

It’s a brown algae called sargassum.

Paul Hammerschmidt, formerly with Coastal Fisheries, says sargassum may accumulate on tide lines for miles.

It belongs to a whole group of plants that belong to the sargassum group. Most of those plants are attached to hard substrate – rocks, shells – that kind of thing. These particular species don’t attach to anything; they’re floating. They have little tiny gas bladders that help the plant float. So, periodically that breaks away and ends up on the Texas beach.

Sargassum originates in the Sargasso Sea, in the middle of the North Atlantic Ocean.

…in a big floating gyre; a gyre is a big eddy. And this particular sea has no shoreline at all – no land shoreline. It’s surrounded by four different ocean currents that keep that seaweed trapped in this one particular area.

Yet, tons of sargassum escape and end up on Texas shores.

Changes in the currents; winds and storms can occur in the area, and section of it actually break off and get into the main currents. Those main currents will bring them into the gulf and eventually onto the beaches.

Tomorrow: the value of sargassum.

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Reel in a Lunker and Get Some “Loot”

Friday, February 16th, 2018
angler with bass

Angler Larry Mosby with his 13.06 pound ShareLunker! Entry #567


This is Passport to Texas

This year, the Toyota Sharelunker program expanded to include largemouth bass eight pounds or more. Anglers may submit data year-round into one of four classes: Lunker, Lunker Elite, Lunker Legend and Lunker Legacy.

And anglers can submit a fish into one of those four classes through our mobile app or our web based form.

Kyle Brookshear oversees the program.

Our mobile app allows an angler to enter the data field, such as the date and time that it was caught—the weight the length. And then document those with a photograph and submit those to us. And once they’re reviewed and confirmed, they’ll be entered into the program.

Lunker Legacy class permits anglers to submit their data and loan 13+ pound lunkers caught during the January 1st—March 31st spawning window.

For entering, an angler in any of those categories receives a catch kit. In addition to that, everyone who enters into one of those four categories, is included in a grand prize drawing of a $5K shopping spree at the end of the year. Those anglers that enter the Legacy Class program are in an additional drawing for another $5K shopping spree.

Find details about the program changes as well as the items found in each catch kit, and how to submit your catch data at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Changes to ShareLunker Program

Thursday, February 15th, 2018
 Toyota Texas ShareLunker program

Toyota Texas ShareLunker program

This is Passport to Texas

The ShareLunker Program is a promotion and enhancement program for Lunker bass fishing in Texas. It selectively breeds trophy largemouth bass donated by anglers.

[Starting] this year we expanded that program to include eight pound bass, nine pound bass, ten pound bass, etc.…all the way up and over thirteen pounds.

Kyle Brookshear oversees the Toyota Texas Sharelunker Program. Why the change?

We wanted to get involved with more anglers out there and begin to recognize them for their achievements. Because, really, a 13-pound bass is the fish of a lifetime, but so it an eight, nine, ten…. And so, we wanted to recognize anglers at other levels of achievement for their catches.

In addition, Brookshear says collecting data on bass 8lb+ helps Texas Parks and Wildlife better understand the influence of ShareLunker genetics in each public water body. He says they’ll continue to collect and spawn 13-pound bass, caught January 1st through March 31st.

And then, we’re not only stocking some of those fingerlings out into the lakes of Texas, but the new change is we are incorporating them into our brood stock development so that eventually, we’ll greatly increase the number of fingerlings that are direct sharelunker descendants that are stocked out in Texas public lakes.

Find details at

The Sport Fish Restoration program supports our series.

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

Pronghorn Restoration and Rural Economy

Wednesday, February 14th, 2018
Pronghorn Antelope

Pronghorn Antelope

This is Passport to Texas

Wildlife biologist Shawn Gray finds pronghorns fascinating, and hopes you will, too.

The pronghorn is a unique mammal of North America; it’s the only one found in its family. It’s the fastest mammal in North America. It’s a big game species.

Gray is the pronghorn program leader and oversees the Pronghorn Restoration Project. Because it’s is a game species, hunting them should pick up as their population grows, thus benefitting local communities.

In 2008, we issued probably like 800 buck only hunting permits. And, shoot, in 2009 or 10, we were issuing less than 100. And there’s a lot to that. Not only is it the money that they get for trespass access for hunting, but the hunters come into the local communities and spend time and spend money. So, there’s a lot of those economic impacts as well with a much reduced pronghorn population out here.

The Trans-Pecos pronghorn population dipped below 3K in 2012, and Gray says through translocation and natural reproduction, they hope to see the number rise to 10K.

Most of the local communities in the Trans-Pecos really miss the pronghorn. And they really want to see pronghorn back on the landscape at numbers that they are used to seeing.

With the continued success of the restoration project, they may get their wish.

The Wildlife Restoration program supports our series and funds pronghorn restoration in Texas.

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