Water in Galveston Bay is so salty that predators and disease are thriving
SMITH POINT, Texas - August 1, 2021 (Associated Press) - Tracy Woody heaved a hemp bag filled with oysters across the deck of his boat and began inspecting his catch. One shell after another was empty.
It’s virtually official, Woody said: the third-worst drought in state history has killed any hope that Texas oysters would make up for the severe losses in Mississippi and Louisiana, where the shellfish suffered from last year’s oil spill and this year’s massive flooding.
“There’s no way,” said Woody, a fifth-generation oyster fisherman who says he has never seen conditions this bad.
Oysters are a $217 million industry on the Gulf Coast. Louisiana and Texas account for 70 percent of the eastern species found in the Gulf and along the East Coast. Pessimism about the harvest this season is growing, even though experts won’t offer a specific projection.
This year, the drought has made the water in Texas’ Galveston Bay, where most of the state’s oysters are harvested, so salty that predators and disease are thriving. Conditions are so dire, the deadly “dermo” parasite has been found in two reefs where it’s never been seen before.