Coastal Bay Habitats
Mud flats may look barren and empty when the tide is out but that layer of smelly, black mud conceals a whole community of worms, clams, crabs, and shrimp.
Long-billed shorebirds feed on these burrowers during low tide, and are joined by hungry fish, snails, crabs, and others as the tide rises.
In the calm shallows of the coastal bays, sea grasses grow in large beds. Turtle grass, widgeon grass, shoal grass and manatee grass from the core of these productive habitats.
Migratory waterfowl feed on sea grasses, and snails, small fish and young fish find food and shelter here.
Open bay waters are common in the midst of several coastal bays in Texas. No sea grass beds grow on the soft bottom here and there are no oyster reefs in this part of the bay.
Tiny plants and animals thrive in the nutrient-rich waters. They, in turn, feed the young of commercially important fish and shrimp.
Laguna Madre is a hypersaline lagoon, a body of water even saltier than most seawater. These lagoons form where rainfall is low and there's not much inflow of fresh water or seawater.
The laguna's salt-tolerant sea grasses and algae support equally hardy crabs, shrimp, and fish.
Long sandy islands from the seaward boundary of coastal bays. Called barrier islands, they separate the bays from the Gulf and protect them from the most severe effects of waves and currents.
To survive on barrier islands, plants and animals must be able to cope with this habitat's constant changes.