Baffin Bay, Texas
Baffin Bay is a bay
Headlands and bays
Headlands and bays are two related features of the coastal environment.- Geology and geography :Headlands and bays are often found on the same coastline. A bay is surrounded by land on three sides, whereas a headland is surrounded by water on three sides. Headlands are characterized by high,...

 in South Texas
South Texas
South Texas is a region of the U.S. state of Texas that lies roughly south of and including San Antonio. The southern and western boundary is the Rio Grande River, and to the east it is the Gulf of Mexico. The population of this region is about 3.7 million. The southern portion of this region is...

, an inlet
An inlet is a narrow body of water between islands or leading inland from a larger body of water, often leading to an enclosed body of water, such as a sound, bay, lagoon or marsh. In sea coasts an inlet usually refers to the actual connection between a bay and the ocean and is often called an...

 of the larger Laguna Madre
Laguna Madre
The Laguna Madre extends well into Mexico, to the mouth of the Río Soto la Marina in the state of Tamaulipas. It is separated from the Gulf of Mexico on the east by a number of barrier islands, including Barra Los Americanos, Barra Jesús María, and Barra Soto la Marina, and is bounded on the west...

. Located near the Gulf of Mexico
Gulf of Mexico
The Gulf of Mexico is a partially landlocked ocean basin largely surrounded by the North American continent and the island of Cuba. It is bounded on the northeast, north and northwest by the Gulf Coast of the United States, on the southwest and south by Mexico, and on the southeast by Cuba. In...

, Baffin Bay forms part of the boundary between Kenedy County and Kleberg County.


The history of the bay name is unclear. The most popular story is that Captain Mifflin Kenedy (1818–1895), after visiting the Arctic Baffin Bay
Baffin Bay
Baffin Bay , located between Baffin Island and the southwest coast of Greenland, is a marginal sea of the North Atlantic Ocean. It is connected to the Atlantic via Davis Strait and the Labrador Sea...

 as a young man, gave the same name to the bay in Texas because of the remarkable contrast between the bays. The Arctic Baffin Bay is located between the Baffin Island
Baffin Island
Baffin Island in the Canadian territory of Nunavut is the largest island in the Canadian Arctic Archipelago, the largest island in Canada and the fifth largest island in the world. Its area is and its population is about 11,000...

 of Canada
Canada is a North American country consisting of ten provinces and three territories. Located in the northern part of the continent, it extends from the Atlantic Ocean in the east to the Pacific Ocean in the west, and northward into the Arctic Ocean...

 and Greenland
Greenland is an autonomous country within the Kingdom of Denmark, located between the Arctic and Atlantic Oceans, east of the Canadian Arctic Archipelago. Though physiographically a part of the continent of North America, Greenland has been politically and culturally associated with Europe for...

, and it is about million times larger by volume than the Baffin Bay in Texas.


The Baffin Bay has three branches, which are named as follows (counterclockwise on the map above): Alazan Bay on the north (green), Cayo del Grullo (purple) and Laguna Salada (blue). Several ephemeral
Ephemeral things are transitory, existing only briefly. Typically the term is used to describe objects found in nature, although it can describe a wide range of things....

A stream is a body of water with a current, confined within a bed and stream banks. Depending on its locale or certain characteristics, a stream may be referred to as a branch, brook, beck, burn, creek, "crick", gill , kill, lick, rill, river, syke, bayou, rivulet, streamage, wash, run or...

s, including San Fernando, Santa Gertrudis and Los Olmos, flow into the bay, but only when it rains. Because of the scarce freshwater inflow and extensive evaporation, which is promoted by shallow water and warm climate, the bay has a relatively high water salinity reaching 75‰ (parts per thousand) in its northern part. Between 1946 and 1948 and in 1968, the salinity level in the bay exceeded 100‰ killing much fish in the area.

About 21 km2 of the bottom of the bay is covered in seagrass
Seagrasses are flowering plants from one of four plant families , all in the order Alismatales , which grow in marine, fully saline environments.-Ecology:...

; most other parts are dominated by shoal grass (Halodule
Halodule is a genus of plants in the family Cymodoceaceae. It includes six to ten species of sea grass distributed in warm oceans.-External links:***...

) with occasional rocky outcrops. Scattered parts of the bay, mostly near the mouth, contain the relict serpulid worm reefs, which are composed of the remains of serpulid
Serpulidae is a family of sessile, tube-building annelid worms in the class Polychaeta. The members of this family differ from the sabellid tube worms in that they have a specialized operculum that blocks the entrance of their tubes when they withdraw into the tubes. In addition, serpulids secrete...

 tube worms. Although some tube worm species still inhabit the bay area and the reefs, they bring no significant contribution to the reef structure. Most reefs are circular or ellipsoid structures between 8 and 40 meters (26 to 131 ft) in diameter and 0.5 to 2 meters (1.5–6.6 ft) in height above the sediment. Their total area is about 16 km2 (6 mi2), but it is gradually reducing due to erosion.


The climate has been described as semiarid, subhumid or subtropical, with a very varying precipitation. Tropical storms and hurricanes are common, and they strongly alter the climate and hydrology of the region.

Flora and fauna

The lands around the bay are flat and dominated by grasslands and oak savanna
Western Gulf coastal grasslands
The Western Gulf coastal grasslands are a subtropical grassland ecoregion of the southern United States and northeastern Mexico. It is known in Texas as "Coastal Prairie" and as the Tamaulipan pastizal in Mexico.-Setting:...

; they are used for agriculture and cattle farming. Common tree and plant species include southern live oak (Quercus virginiana), prickly pear (Opuntia
Opuntia, also known as nopales or paddle cactus , is a genus in the cactus family, Cactaceae.Currently, only prickly pears are included in this genus of about 200 species distributed throughout most of the Americas. Chollas are now separated into the genus Cylindropuntia, which some still consider...

spp.), lime prickly-ash (Zanthoxylum fagara
Zanthoxylum fagara
Zanthoxylum fagara is a species of flowering plant in the citrus family, Rutaceae that is native to southern Florida and Texas in the United States, Mexico, Central America, the Caribbean, and South America as far south as Paraguay...

), greenbriar (Smilax
Smilax is a genus of about 300-350 species, found in temperate zones, tropics and subtropics worldwide. In China for example about 80 are found , while there are 20 in North America north of Mexico...

spp.), sunflowers (Helianthus
Sunflower is an annual plant native to the Americas. It possesses a large inflorescence . The sunflower got its name from its huge, fiery blooms, whose shape and image is often used to depict the sun. The sunflower has a rough, hairy stem, broad, coarsely toothed, rough leaves and circular heads...

spp.), tanglehead (Heteropogon contortus
Heteropogon contortus
Heteropogon contortus is a tropical, perennial tussock grass with a native distribution encompassing Southern Africa, southern Asia, Northern Australia and Oceania. The species has also become a naturalised weed in tropical and subtropical regions in the Americas and East Asia. The plant grows to ...

), crinkleawn (Trachypogon
Trachypogon is a genus of grass in the Poaceae family.-External links:*...

), gulfdune paspalum (Paspalum
Paspalum is a genus of the grass family . Commonly known as paspalums, bahiagrasses or dallis grasses most are tall perennial American grasses. They are most diverse in subtropical and tropical regions....

), fringed signalgrass (Urochloa
Urochloa is a genus of grass in the Poaceae family.-External links:*...

), shrubby oxalis (Oxalis
Oxalis is by far the largest genus in the wood-sorrel family Oxalidaceae: of the approximately 900 known species in the Oxalidaceae, 800 belong here...

 frutescens angustifolia
), dayflower (Commelina
Commelina is a genus of approximately 170 species commonly called dayflowers due to the short lives of their flowers. They are less often known as widow's tears. It is by far the largest genus of its family, Commelinaceae...

spp.), Texas lantana (Lantana
Lantana is a genus of about 150 species of perennial flowering plants in the verbena family, Verbenaceae. They are native to tropical regions of the Americas and Africa but exist as an introduced species in numerous areas, especially in the Australian-Pacific region. The genus includes both...

), Texas bullnettle (Cnidoscolus
Cnidoscolus is a plant genus of the family Euphorbiaceae. The name is derived from the Greek words κνίδη , meaning "nettle," and σκολος , meaning "thorn" or "prickle."-Selected species:...

Cnidoscolus texanus
Cnidoscolus texanus, commonly known as Texas Bullnettle, Treadsoftly, and Mala Mujer, is a perennial herb covered with stinging hairs, native to the U.S. States of Texas, Arkansas, Kansas, Louisiana, and Oklahoma. It is also native to the northern Mexican state Tamaulipas...

), silverleaf nightshade (Solanum elaeagnifolium
Solanum elaeagnifolium
Silver-leaved Nightshade or Silverleaf nightshade, Solanum elaeagnifolium, is a common weed of western North America and also found in South America. Other common names include Prairie Berry, Silverleaf Nettle, White Horsenettle or Silver Nightshade...

), crotons (Croton
Croton (genus)
Croton is an extensive flowering plant genus in the spurge family, Euphorbiaceae, established by Carl Linnaeus in 1737. The plants of this genus were described and introduced to Europeans by Georg Eberhard Rumphius. The common names for this genus are rushfoil and croton, but the latter also...

spp.) and Lindheimer tephrosia (Tephrosia
Tephrosia is a genus of flowering plants in the pea family, Fabaceae. The generic name is derived from the Greek word τεφρος , meaning "ash-colored," referring to the greyish tint given to the leaves by their dense trichomes.-Uses:...


The waters of the bay contain several species of annelid
The annelids , formally called Annelida , are a large phylum of segmented worms, with over 17,000 modern species including ragworms, earthworms and leeches...

s and 29 species of diatom
Diatoms are a major group of algae, and are one of the most common types of phytoplankton. Most diatoms are unicellular, although they can exist as colonies in the shape of filaments or ribbons , fans , zigzags , or stellate colonies . Diatoms are producers within the food chain...

s. The dominant mollusks are dwarf surf clam
Surf clam
The surf clam, Spisula solida, is a medium sized marine clam or bivalve mollusc. Up to 5 cm long, like many clams it is a sediment-burrowing filter feeder.This species of clam is found at scattered locations around the British and Irish coasts....

s and Capitella capitata
Capitella capitata
The Capitella capitata is a polychaete worm that grows up to 10 cm in length. It is often blood-red in colour. The species is sedentary and fragile, with a flexible body....

. The serpulid worm reefs are inhabited by crustaceans, polychaete
The Polychaeta or polychaetes are a class of annelid worms, generally marine. Each body segment has a pair of fleshy protrusions called parapodia that bear many bristles, called chaetae, which are made of chitin. Indeed, polychaetes are sometimes referred to as bristle worms. More than 10,000...

s and mollusks. Invertebrates are represented by the endemic fiddler crab
Fiddler crab
A fiddler crab, sometimes known as a calling crab, may be any of approximately 100 species of semi-terrestrial marine crabs which make up the genus Uca. As members of the family Ocypodidae, fiddler crabs are most closely related to the ghost crabs of the genus Ocypode. This entire group is composed...

 species Uca subcylindrica, which reside on dry soil, more than 20 meters from bay waters. The bay is a popular destination for recreational angling and is famous for its trophy spotted seatrout. Other species include cowfish, threadfin shad
Threadfin shad
The threadfin shad, Dorosoma petenense, is a small pelagic fish common in rivers, large streams, and reservoirs of the Southeastern United States. Like the American gizzard shad, the threadfin shad has an elongated dorsal ray, but unlike the gizzard shad its mouth is more terminal without...

 (in low salinity periods), pompano
Pompanos are marine fishes in the Trachinotus genus of the Carangidae family . Pompano may also refer to various other, similarly shaped members of Carangidae, or the order Perciformes. Their appearance is deep bodied and mackerel-like, typically silver and toothless with a forked tail and...

, black drum
Black drum
The Black Drum is a saltwater fish similar to its cousin, the Red Drum. It is the only species in the genus Pogonias. Though most specimens are generally found in the 5-30 lb range, the black drum is well known as the largest of all the drum family with some specimens reaching excesses of...

 and burrowing goby
Burrowing goby
The Burrowing Goby or Naked Goby is a species of fish in the Gobiidae family. Its genus Croilia is monotypic.It is found in Mozambique and South Africa...

, etc.

External links

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