Smashing Traps, Saving Crabs

Since 2002, the Texas Parks & Wildlife Department has instituted an annual 10-day crab trap closure period that begins the third Friday of February. Any crab trap left in coastal waters in those 10 days is considered litter and may be disposed of appropriately.

During that time period, Galveston Bay Foundation hosts a volunteer trap removal day in Anahuac and Bolivar. The abandoned traps are a source of mortality for many Bay creatures and can also lead to costly repairs for boaters and fishermen whose motors come into contact with lost or abandoned traps. Once the traps are removed, volunteers on land will smash and trash the traps.

Volunteers Lanny Ripple and Linda Yancey grew up in the Houston-Galveston area and have been to the Anahuac Crab Trap Removal site for the past eight years.

“The kids love stomping on the crab traps and actually seeing what’s in them because a lot of them come up

CCA Texas Photo: Terrapin turtle rescued from a trap at Bolivar

with animals in them,” Linda said. She noted that they’d seen a lot of crabs, but one year, they found an otter skull in a derelict trap and with permission from Texas Game Wardens, got to take it home to keep in their “curiosity cabinet.”

“One of the reasons we keep doing it over and over is to show our kids how easy it is to come out and do something that’s fun and gives back,” Lanny said.

This year between Anahuac and Bolivar, volunteers collected, smashed and trashed 141 derelict traps and even saved a terrapin turtle and a blue crab from derelict traps!

While waiting for boats to come in with traps, the volunteers removed an impressive amount of trash out of the areas including two refrigerators and an old ship buoy.

“It’s inspiring to see the passion that the volunteers here have today,” said Jina Faith, Education Coordinator at the Eddie V. Gray Wetlands Education Center.

She brought three high school students from the Center’s E.P.I.C. program to help out. She said they walked

Baytown Nature Center E.P.I.C. program students smash traps

past a refrigerator and thought it was too heavy, there’d be no way to get it out.

“We came back 30 minutes later and there was a group of ten people working to get it out. It’s really nice to see how motivated a group of people working together can be,” she said.

Thank you to everyone who came together to help keep our Bay healthy and clean. An estimated 2,300 blue crabs were “saved” through this effort, allowing more time for the crabs to grow and breed. The overall goal is to maintain a healthy population of blue crab for environmental, recreational and industry purposes.

You can learn more about the health of blue crab populations by checking out the Galveston Bay Report Card at galvbaygrade.org.

You can continue to collect derelict or abandoned traps from Texas waters until February 24th, 2019. Learn more on TPWD’s website.