RPI in TX
Last November, I traveled to Brownsville, Texas to present the Responsible Pier Initiative at the Second International Kemp’s Ridley Sea Turtle Symposium. Immediately after my talk, two women introduced themselves: Amanda from Texas Sealife Center and Joanie from Turtle Island Restoration Network. They expressed their interest in implementing the program and we exchanged contact information.
Since then, both Amanda and Joanie have been working with local organizations and pier managers in Corpus Christi and Galveston, respectively. Because of their tireless efforts, the RPI is in place in Texas, increasing participation to a grand total of 37 fishing piers.
My first stop was Corpus Christi where I led a First Responder workshop for several pier managers. Amanda and I then carried the signage and tools across the street to Bob Hall Pier. One fisherman at the end of the pier immediately got out of his seat to help us place the signs. Another told me stories of spotting sea turtles and asked for tips on how to tell one species from another. We drove about 20 miles north to hang the signs on Horace Caldwell Pier. Everyone we spoke with was excited to see the new program in place.
Next, I traveled north to Galveston to meet with Joanie and visit Seawolf Park, Galveston Fishing Pier, and 61st Street Fishing Pier. In addition to pier managers, NOAA staff, Fish and Wildlife personnel, and Houston Zoo staff, the Galveston First Responder workshop was attended by Dr. Tasha Metz and her summer term sea turtle biology students from Texas A&M University at Galveston.
The whole group traveled together to the first pier to install the signage. It was truly a team effort – city, state, federal, non-profit, and academic institutions all represented and all working together.
Texas piers are unlike any others we have visited. Large oil rigs and busy shipping lanes are visible from each site. Cargo ships line up in the channel waiting for their turn at port and shrimp boats pass by teaming with hungry seagulls. The piers crowd in winter with ‘winter Texans’ and in summer with vacationing tourists. Each pier we visit is unique and we are so happy that these five are the latest to join our efforts.