Houston, TX-The Texas coast is a natural treasure to many Texans, but few know about its ecologic and economic importance. The Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology, a new permanent exhibition opening at HMNS May 22, shows visitors how a healthy environment is paramount to maintaining and sustaining a healthy economy. With about 2400 square feet of floor space and a 120 foot wall space adjacent to the new Farish Hall of Texas Wildlife, guests learn about the environmental characteristics of the Texas coast, as well as critical habitats, iconic species, concerns and impacts, recreation, and opportunities for conservation and restoration.
"The Texas coast provides seemingly unlimited resources of many kinds for business, industry, education, recreation, and simply, personal enjoyment," said Wes Tunnell, HMNS Curator of Marine Biology. "Consequently, many people want to live, work, and play on the Texas coast. Therefore, it is important to balance what we take from and how we use the coast. We now know that a healthy coastal environment leads to a healthy and sustainable coastal economy, so it is important to protect the natural environment which in turn protects the economy."
The Hall is divided into different coasts in Texas and some of the troubled species natural to that area are displayed in their natural habitat. The upper coast, characterized by plentiful freshwater
Inflows, is dominated by salt marsh and oyster reef habitats, the middle coast has a smaller population of humans and less rainfall than the upper coast but with considerable salt marshes and oyster reefs; and the lower coast is semi-arid where the Laguna Madre, the most famous hypersaline lagoon in the world, is characterized by seagrass beds and wind-tidal flats. Special dioramas focus on oyster reefs, colonial waterbirds, and the Kemp's ridley sea turtle of the lower coast and its recovery from near-extinction.
Many organizations, agencies, and individuals are engaged in how to conserve and protect the coast and its resources for future generations. The Hamman Hall of Texas Coastal Ecology presents some of the key conservation and management issues of the Texas coast for visitors to study and consider. Learn about Ecosystem Services, which provides new ways to consider, study and understand what ecosystems mean to Texans. Coastal Management explains which different state agencies serve to protect our lush coastal areas and Conservation and Protection of the Coast highlights the protection and management of different species.