A Guide to Galveston Bay History and Habitats
Meet Your Bay – Most of us who live near Galveston Bay never think much about water and its influence on our lives. Yet we live on an estuary, a place where fresh and salt water mix. The effects of being in an estuary are felt by fishermen on the Galveston jetties and by Houston commuters stranded by a flooded creek. The Bay plays an important role in the lives of all who live near it, whether we are aware of those effects or not.
When people first came to Galveston Bay thousands of years ago, they found many distinct habitats including vast cypress swamps, enormous oyster reefs, dense forests, wide coastal prairies, expansive salt marshes, and long barrier islands. We now know that this area is the second most productive and seventh largest estuary in North America, a place where the San Jacinto and Trinity Rivers and numerous creeks and bayous merge with the Gulf of Mexico. This region is rich with natural and cultural resources and teeming with life.
The ways people have used our estuary’s habitats have changed significantly over time, and these changes have been inscribed upon and around the Bay. The Galveston Bay Drive & Discover Guide documents some of these changes and their effects on the Bay’s habitats.As such, the Drive & Discover Guide blends both human and natural history. From ancient shell middens, early cattle ranches, and the first offshore oil rigs in Texas to seagrass meadows and world-renowned birdwatching sites, the Drive & Discover Guide organizes these and many other interesting sites into seven distinct areas that can be visited in sequence or individually.
Galveston Bay Drive & Discover Facts:
- More than 55 sites
- Seven geographic areas
- Maps of each area with the locations of each site within
- Full descriptions and driving directions to each site
- Beautiful photographs by notable photographers Jim Olive and Andrew Hancock
Whether you live on or near Galveston Bay or are just here visiting, the hope is that by visiting these sites, you’ll have fun as well as learn about Galveston Bay. We hope this helps pique your curiosity and provides some insight into what makes Galveston Bay such a special and vital resource to this region.
The Galveston Bay Drive & Discover Guide is available for free by clicking here to request a hard copy and is now also available as an interactive mobile app on both Apple and Android devices.
Prepared in cooperation with the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality and U.S. Environmental Protection Agency through a grant from the Galveston Bay Estuary Program