Effects of Harvey on Galveston Bay
By Capt. Joe Kent
Lots of questions are being asked about the effects of the recent flood waters on the Galveston Bay Complex. Most of the questions are centered on whether the floods have a beneficial or detrimental impact on the eco-system and what we can expect in the way of fishing this fall.
For a number of years, the Galveston Bay Complex was experiencing a serious drought that was beginning to change the ecology of the bay. High levels of salinity and restricted flows of fresh water from rivers and creeks were taking its toll on the wetlands and back bays.
Concerns were mounting about a change in our fish patterns, in particular a possible migration of certain species of fish out of the bays and an influx of different species into the bays. It certainly was a situation that warranted concern.
Three years ago, the first of a series of heavy flooding hit and eventually lowered the salinity levels and created some ideal conditions for growing our stocks of marine life, both fin fish and shell fish.
In most cases, flood waters entering the bays do a lot of good for the basic component of the marine life cycle and that is the estuaries. The nutrients that are washed into the rivers and other outlets help the vegetation grow and in turn provide a sanctuary for newly hatched marine life.
This is obviously a real benefit to all who partake in saltwater recreational activities and most beneficial to anglers in all areas including those who fish offshore.
On the other hand, flood waters that contain heavy concentrations of contaminants can be detrimental to the estuaries. Contaminants in the form of chemicals and metals are the most destructive, as they can and do kill the life line of the estuaries, the vegetation and in general pollute the waters.
“Well, for speckled trout especially they are going to be found in large concentrations closer to the coast.”
Just how our recent flood affects the sensitive balance in the wetlands is yet to be determined.
While it remains to be seen as to the effects on the estuaries, there are a few things that can pretty well be counted on as far as the effects on fishing and crabbing.