With a shoreline that stretches over 1,000 miles, the wildlife creatures found in our gulf waters span the gamut. What swims beneath our Texas waters may be very familiar, but some might surprise you!
Around South Padre Island, you are sure to spot several Atlantic bottlenose dolphins. This area is home to several large pods, about 300 dolphins, that have made it their permanent residence. If you go on an eco-watch tour, you are likely to catch (and release) some unique animals, such as a butterfly ray, which is found in warm oceans worldwide. These peaceful creatures look just like a stingray but without the stinger.
You have probably heard of the sashimi, called fugu in Japan, made from the meat of the tiger pufferfish. This type of pufferfish is the most famously edible and equally poisonous. Just one fish has enough poison to take out 30 humans. Chefs are specially trained to prepare it to properly remove the poison sac. According to Texas Saltwater Fishing Magazine, our endangered Texas pufferfish are not as sought after as a delicacy, but they are considered the second-most poisonous vertebrates in the world, so best to admire these adorable, spiny fish from afar.
Although rare, manatees have been spotted in recent months around Texas coastlines, including Galveston, Port Aransas, and South Padre Island. According to the U.S. Fish & Wildlife Service, these docile sea cows like to visit Texas in the summer but return to the warmer waters of Florida and Mexico in the winter. Consider it good luck if you spot one!
Sea turtles like to nest from May until September. If you time it just right, you can watch the hatchlings slowly race to the ocean from mid-June to August. Thankfully, Sea Turtle, Inc. in South Padre is there to assist this endangered species when needed.
Many other sea creatures swim in our warm, deep waters, including great hammerhead sharks, bull sharks, and the not often talked about lemon shark, known for its beautiful lemon-hued skin.
There are greater amberjack, lesser electric ray, the striped Atlantic spadefish, and tarpon. Vermilion snapper, barracuda, barred grunt, cobia, permit, sand seatrout, bay whiff, are a few others you may find.
Of course, the gulf is a popular place to fish for red snapper, mahimahi, marlin, kingfish, and a variety of other tuna, while the bayside (around Galveston or Corpus Christi, for example) is known for redfish, black drum, speckled trout, pompano, sheepshead, and flounder.
Bound to discover something new that swims beneath out waters is what makes visiting our Texas shores such an adventure!