Science & Tech

New Website Helps Identify Marine Species

The new site helps the citizens of Texas identify marine species and even types of vegetation.
By Keith Randall, Texas A&M Marketing & Communications October 31, 2012

You’ve caught a whopping 50-pounder off the coast, but you don’t know exactly what this 50-pound whopper is? Answers will likely be coming your way, thanks to a new website using resources from Texas A&M University at Galveston and Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.

The new site helps the citizens of Texas identify marine species and even types of vegetation. Texas A&M-Galveston hosts the site with help and information provided by the TPWD.

The site is geared for everyone, from a youngster learning about different types of fish to a doctoral student trying to get more information about a new form of seaweed recently discovered.

marine life
Many fish types can now be identified.

(Getty Images)

The guide provides detailed photos and descriptions to aid in the correct identification of individual organisms. Each species is represented by one or more photographs and brief descriptions of habitat, distinguishing characteristics, differences with similar species, maximum sizes, common and scientific names and families and any other interesting or pertinent information.

The website allows Texans to narrow down a species based on general features, such as tail shape, dorsal fins, mouth area or other distinctive characteristics. In addition, there is a glossary of technical terms used with drawings and photos of specific features of specific groups of organisms to aid in identification.

Brenda Bowling at Texas Parks and Wildlife said that the website will be updated frequently as new species and photographs become available. Bowling, who is also a former student of Texas A&M University-Galveston, said that effective management of marine resources must be based on scientifically sound knowledge of life history, population dynamics and status of the resource.

“Correct identification of species encountered is essential to our understanding of these marine processes,” she explains. “Marine species can be difficult to identify because of the vast numbers of species and similarities of related species. Distinguishing species correctly is a process requiring special skills that need to be demonstrated or taught, and we hope this website provides insight into that process.”

For more information, contact Brenda Bowling at Texas Parks and Wildlife.

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