Monday, June 30, 2008


Had time for some birding between High Island and Crystal Beach this past Friday afternoon before meeting up with friends. High Island is about an hour northeast of Houston and an hour southwest of Beaumont along the Texas Gulf Coast. The Pelicans on this particular day were in rare form and groups of 30 or so of them were flying down the coastline, drafting in each others wake, moving along in wave-like fashion. They were really cool to watch! This went on for quite awhile so I decided to hang out and enjoy the show!

The waves were up at the beach and it was fairly windy. The water on this northern Texas coastline is much browner than the water farther south due to the influence of the Mississippi River which drains into the Gulf of Mexico near New Orleans. The flow of sediments from the midwest and all points south mixes into the gulf water near the mouth of the Miss. and flows to the Texas/LA side causing muddy waters. The muddy water is nutrient-laden which in general provides good food sources for fish and other aquatic creatures, but a big problem that we have in this part of the country is the DEAD ZONE. This is a large area of water in the gulf which becomes devoid of oxygen and causes massive fish kills and other marine life die-offs. When the dead zone starts to expand everything in the water has to either leave in a hurry or succumb to suffocation. The cause is now known to be too much nitrogen and phosphorus in the river waters deposited way upstream. These rivers (such as the mighty Miss.) travel hundreds of miles through the U.S., collecting runoff from farms, towns, commercial areas, before spilling their contents into the Gulf of Mexico. Excessive nutrients are added to the rivers and these deposits have a direct influence on our waters along the Gulf of Mexico, especially from the mouth of the Mississippi westward to the south of Houston. As you travel farther south in Texas, the water becomes clearer ever so slightly until you reach South Padre Island where the waters are blue!

SO....if you live 'up there' please remember us 'down here' and try to limit the use and over-use of chemicals and fertilizers on the land because they end up in the rivers and eventually in our beach water too!!!


troutbirder said...

There is hope. Forty years ago the Mississipi in St Paul (where I grew up was an open sewer) now its much better. I even catch and eat fish in it. Still agricultural practices and growing population make progress difficult. The Minnesota River is still very bad. I love your bird and flower pictures. Keep up the good work!!


Thanks Troutbirder! I too have faith that rivers are and will be cleaner in the future. Hopefully the worst of the dirty days are behind us. It is especially hard to regulate what flows into the gulf and oceans because the rivers pass through so many different states with so many different regulations. Besides that, how do you get people interested in what happens hundreds of miles downstream of them? It is difficult to explain how actions that are taken so far inland affect us along the coastlines too. Maybe blogging helps in some small way! I hope so!

Shellmo said...

I love watching the patterns birds/ducks make when they fly or swim together - really liked your pelican photos!


Thanks Shellmo! I like visiting your blogs for the nature and wildlife shots (like the Rose Breasted Grosbeak on the Cabin Blog - one of my favorite birds!)