Galveston Bay is an estuary. Estuaries are recognized on
maps as the convolutions in the shorelines caused by the meeting
of fresh and salt water. Sought out by early explorers as
routes inland from the sea, estuaries are rich in human history.
In fact, for a variety of reasons, estuaries are the place
where most people interact with the sea in some way or another.
Estuaries are immensely valuable national resources. A large
percentage of the population of this country is within twenty-five
miles of a coast and most significant American coastal cities
are located on or near an estuary. It does not take a stretch
of the imagination to conclude that the great navigation route
afforded by Galveston Bay was paramount in the minds of the
Allen brothers when they founded what was to become Houston,
the third largest port in this country.
here for larger image
The importance of the estuaries as a resource however, goes
far beyond their value as transportation arteries. They are
also ecosystems of great significance.*
- Estuaries are unique waterbodies where fresh water from
rivers, streams and direct rainfall mixes with salt water
from the sea.
- Galveston Bay is the sixth largest bay in the National
Estuary System, encompassing some 600 sq. mi. of water.
- Often ringed by wetlands and marshes, estuaries are the
nurseries of the oceans.
- More than 90% of the commercially harvested seafood species
in the Gulf of Mexico and its bay systems require estuarine
environments like Galveston Bay for one or more of their
- Marshes and wetlands are under overwhelming stress from
shore development projects, pollution and erosion.
- One third of the states commercial fishing income
comes from the bay.
- Over half the states expenditures for recreational
fishing are related to Galveston Bay.
* Some of the above facts were taken from The State of the
Bay a publication of The Galveston Bay National Estuary Program.
for more information.