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 Featured Project

Coastal Fisheries Mapping Application & Data Download

Texas coastal fisheries mapping application screenshot

The Coastal Fisheries Mapping Application and Data Download provides access to fisheries data from the Louisiana Dept of Wildlife and Fisheries and the Texas Parks and Wildlife Dept.  The application allows the user to view each of the bay systems or coastal study areas along the TX and LA coasts and view population trend graphs for selected species that inhabit these areas.  Population trends can be compared against several hydrological parameters of interest.  Species abundance data can be downloaded in Excel format.


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 Coastal Resources

 

Image of Blue Crab, Callinectes sapidus, courtesy of Texas Parks and Wildlife
Blue crab (Callinectes sapidus),
[Photo: Texas Parks and Wildlife]

Why is the Gulf of Mexico Coastal Region special?

The Gulf of Mexico coastal region is a unique area where the land meets the sea. The Gulf Coast is home to a number of habitats including but not limited to riparian forests, coastal prairies, salt marshes, seagrass beds, and mangroves. The diversity of habitats allows for an abundance of wildlife including migratory birds and numerous species of fish, shellfish, mammals, and reptiles. Some species of special significance found in the region are protected by state and federal regulations and international treaties. Others are valued for their commercial or recreational uses or the joy that they bring to coastal residents and visitors that view them in their natural environment. All rely upon balanced and productive ecosystems for their continued well-being.

What are the issues?

As is often the case when fragile ecosystems and wildlife communities reside alongside areas of human development, a number of stressors exist. The degree to which a stressor impacts a natural resource determines whether or not that stressor is recognized as a coastal issue. Every person, or stakeholder, living and working in the coastal zone has a different opinion regarding an issue's scope and importance. However, a number of issues are generally recognized along the Gulf Coast, such as development and habitat loss, water quality degradation and hypoxia, declining trends in wildlife populations, seafood safety, fisheries harvest, freshwater inflows, coastal erosion and subsidence, the importance of habitats such as bays, estuaries and coastal wetlands, Gulf Coast seagrass,  and invasives species. 


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 Featured Project

Marsh Monitoring

Glasswort pickleweed (Salicornia virginica) Photo courtesy of Jay Raney and The Texas Coastal Monitoring Program

Wetlands are important habitats in coastal estuaries.  Due to increasing human development along the coastal plains, wetlands have become imperiled habitats. In an effort to protect wetlands, wetland protection activities along the Gulf Coast are underway. Numerous wetland restoration sites have been planted by the public and private sector in the Galveston Bay Estuary since the early 1970s. Since their initial planting, few of the restoration sites have been monitored to assess the success of the restoration project in terms of wetland acreage and ecosystem function.

To begin the important task of monitoring and assessing key wetland restoration sites, HARC researchers worked with local partners to develop technology infrastructure. HARC teamed with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), the Galveston Bay Foundation (GBF), and the University of Houston-Clear Lake (UHCL) to develop an online data entry portal, backend database, and real time mapping application to collect and disseminate data describing monitoring of Galveston Bay wetland restoration sites.


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