Cedar Bayou Now Open to Gulf Waters, Harte Research Institute Scientists to Observe Marine Life

October 02, 2014

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Coastal Conservation Association Texas

ARANSAS COUNTY, Texas Cedar Bayou is now open to the Gulf of Mexico after years of planning and fundraising efforts.

With the opening completed on Sept. 25, 2014, the second phase of work begins for scientists with Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi.

Cedar Bayou and Vinson Slough were opened on September 25, 2014, after having been sealed in the 1970s and enduring decades of negative impacts from siltation and low water flows.

The natural pass that separates San Jose Island from Matagorda Island, near Rockport, Texas, has been subject to several dredging efforts to reopen and reconnect it to the flow of Gulf waters needed for a healthy and productive ecosystem.

Coastal Conservation Association Texas and Aransas County took the lead in this latest, successful round of fundraising.

HRI scientists are monitoring Cedar Bayou, another tool to understand the impact of opening tidal inlets in terms of the abundance of marine life and tourist dollars.

Quentin Hall, a Master’s student working with Dr. Greg Stunz at HRI’s Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, and a team of researchers are surveying population numbers of juvenile fish, shrimp, and crab, collectively referred to as nekton at 14 spots between Matagorda Island and Port Aransas. The survey began two years ago and will continue for one year.

Data collected will help researchers determine if nekton populations change as a result of opening Cedar Bayou.

 “This iconic pass is now flowing and is conduit for marine life migrating from their Gulf spawning grounds to nursery habitats in the bay,” said Hall. “While there is a lot of interest in opening closed inlets, the costs are often high. By doing studies such as these, we will be able to describe the impacts to the ecology of the region and recreational fishing.  Our hope is that the benefits will far outweigh the costs.”

The restored inlet is expected to revive fish populations in the area, bringing in more fishermen and tourists, who put money into the local communities.

“Coastal Conservation Association Texas (CCA Texas) and anglers all over Texas have been looking forward to this day,” said John Blaha, Director of CCA Texas’ Habitat Today for Fish Tomorrow program. “Cedar Bayou is finally open, and our financial contribution would not have been possible without our volunteers. This project is going to be incredibly beneficial to the local ecosystem, and we are going to see its positive impact for years to come.”

Read more about HRI’s project: New Research to Show Effects of Opening Channels on Marine Life.

Read more from CCA about Cedar Bayou: www.ccatexas.org/cedar-bayou.