“Rain rain go away, there is no salt left in the bays.”
That was the posting on Capt. Jim West’s webpage on Thursday.
The posting definitely reflects the current condition of the Galveston Bay Complex and a condition that has repeated itself too often in the past two years.
There is little doubt in my mind that last year’s continuous low salinity levels have had an adverse effect on fishing, especially for speckled trout. Specks are very sensitive to both salinity and oxygen levels in the bays.
While trout are likely the species of fish most adversely affected, other fish also do not respond well to the low levels of salt.
Low salinity associated with floods pouring fresh water into Galveston Bay is a prime reason for the migration of trout to the passages into the Gulf and beachfront. Low oxygen levels tend to be mostly associated with hot weather. In the back bays and marshes where vegetation thrives, hot temperatures combined with cloudy days offer an added problem with oxygen, in that the aquatic plants pull oxygen out of the water. On sunny days, the sunlight on the subsurface plants encourages photosynthesis, in which the plants produce oxygen.
During winter, oxygen levels are rarely a problem; however the same cannot be said of salinity levels. Other organisms are affected as well. During the warm months, low salinity levels result in higher bacteria growth, which often results in the closure of beaches and high risk warnings to swimmers being issued.
What will it take to solve the salinity problem? We need dry weather, to start, and then strong tides bringing in water from the Gulf of Mexico. If we can get dry conditions for a while, tides should take care of the rest.