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Galveston Bay is located on the Texas coast and is the second largest estuarine complex in the region. The system is composed of four bays: East Bay, West Bay, Galveston Bay and Trinity Bay, and includes numerous other small embayments. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the Bolivar Peninsula, Galveston Island and Follets Island with tidal exchange occurring through the Bolivar and San Luis Passes. Freshwater inflow into the bay is provided by the Trinity and San Jacinto Rivers. The bay is surrounded by the urban, commercial, and industrial complexes of Houston, Texas City and Galveston.
Galveston Bay has been declared an estuary of national significance by the Environmental Protection Agency National Estuary Program and the area surrounding the bay system is bordered by coastal plains and marshes. The Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve, a shallow embayment located in its southwestern portion, is a unique high quality subsystem of estuary that has not yet been greatly altered by human activity. The preserve is one of the most ecologically productive bays of the Galveston complex. Important natural resources in Galveston bay include finfish and blue crab and it is also estimated that seventy-five percent of the bird species in North America spend some time in the bay.
Coordinates: 29.57° N 94.93° W
Selected Characteristics: (USEPA, 1999)
Surface Area: 1,399 km2
Drainage Area: 63,500 km2
Average Daily FW Inflow: 430 m3/s
Average Depth: 2.0 m
Average Salinity: 11 ppt
Coastal Wetlands: 1,594 km2
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation: 73 km2
Association of National Estuary Programs. Located on the web at: http://www.anep-usa.org/factcards/galveston.htm
Armstrong, N.E. 1987. The ecology of open-bay bottoms of Texas: a community profile. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service Biological Report 85(7.12). 104 pp.
Britton, J.C. and B. Morton. 1989. Shore Ecology of the Gulf of Mexico. University of Texas Press, Austin. 387 pp.
GEMS - Christmas Bay Coastal Preserve. Available on the web at: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/conserve/txgems/christma/christma.htm
USEPA. 1999. Ecological condition of estuaries in the Gulf of Mexico. EPA 620-R-98-004. U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Office of Research and Development, National Health and Environmental Effects Research Laboratory, Gulf Ecology Division, Gulf Breeze, Florida. 80 pp.
The Nature Conservancy -Texas City Preserve
Bolivar Flats Shorebird Sanctuary
Association of National Estuary Programs - Galveston Bay Estuary
Keywords: Coastal plains, Marsh, Bays, Estuaries, Galveston, Crab, Fish, Birds
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