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Matagorda Bay

Credit: U. S. Fish and Wildlife Service
From: Ward et al., 1980; Armstrong, 1987

Matagorda Bay is located on the Texas Coast at approximately 28.5 N and 96.5 W and is the third largest Texas estuarine system (1,013.68 square km). The Matagorda Bay system contains a number of defined embayments including East Matagorda Bay, Karankawa Bay, Tres Palacios Bay/Turtle Bay and Lavaca Bay, which also encompasses Chocolate, Keller and Cox Bays (see Moseley, 1973). Oyster Lake and Powderhorn Lake are two smaller bodies of water with connections to Matagorda Bay. Another prominent feature of the system is the Colorado River, the delta of which nearly completely separates East Matagorda Bay from the rest of the system. Matagorda Bay is separated from the Gulf of Mexico by the Matagorda Peninsula, and water exchange occurs through 5 principal tidal inlets (south to north): Pass Cavallo, Matagorda Ship Channel, Greens Bayou, the Colorado River Delta Complex and Brown Cedar Cut. Freshwater input to the system comes from a relatively large drainage basin, entering the bay from the Colorado and Lavaca Rivers, and numerous creeks and bayous, including: Tres Palacios Creek, Garcitas Creek, Placedo Creek, Big Boggy Creek, Caney Creek, Coloma Creek, Chocolate Bayou, Keller Creek and E/W Karankawa Creeks.

The bay provides excellent feeding and nursery areas for marine species and represent an important fisheries resource in the region. Commercial fisheries include shrimp, oysters, blue crabs and fin-fish. Recreational and sport fishing is also an important economic resource in the area.

Matagorda Bay

Coordinates:   28.50° N  96.50° W

Selected Characteristics: (USEPA, 1999)
Surface Area:   1,093 km2
Drainage Area:   109,300 km2
Average Daily FW Inflow:   150 m3/s
Average Depth:   2.0 m
Average Salinity:   19 ppt
Coastal Wetlands:   348 km2
Submerged Aquatic Vegetation:  28 km2

Moseley, F.N., and B.J. Copeland. 1973. Ecology of Cox Bay, Texas, Final Report. Central Power and Light Company. Corpus Christi, TX. 165 pp.

Ward, G.H., Jr., N. E. Armstrong, and the Matagorda Bay Project Teams. 1980. Matagorda Bay, Texas: its hydrography, ecology, and fishery resources. U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, Biological Services Program, Washington, D.C. FWS/OBS-81/52.

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.

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.

Additional Information:
Recreation.Gov - Big Boggy National Wildlife Refuge
Texas Parks & Wildlife - Mad Island Wildlife Management Area
U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service - San Bernard National Wildlife Refuge
Texas Parks & Wildlife - Port Lavaca State Fishing Pier
Conrad Blucher Institute - "East Matagorda, Old Gulf Cut" Station Information

Keywords:   Bay, Shrimp, Oyster, Blue crab , Fin-fish, Matagorda, Fisheries

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