Skip to main content
U.S. flag

An official website of the United States government

Corpus Christi, Nueces, and Aransas Bays: Chapter C in Emergent wetlands status and trends in the northern Gulf of Mexico: 1950-2010

February 27, 2012

Corpus Christi Bay and Nueces Bay comprise the middle estuarine portion of Texas’ Coastal Bend region (Figure 1; Burgan and Engle, 2006). Aransas Bay is part of the upper estuarine portion of the region. These bays make up part of the Coastal Bend Bays and Estuaries Program, one of the many estuarine areas in the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s National Estuary Program (Holt, 1998). The Coastal Bend region is sub-humid and sub-tropical. Summers are long, hot, and humid, and winters are short and mild. The landscape around the estuaries is dominated by row crops, pastures, and brushy rangeland (Handley and others, 2007). The Nueces River, along with other smaller rivers and creeks, provides freshwater inflow - along with essential nutrients and sediment - into Nueces Bay, which feeds into Corpus Christi Bay (Holt, 1998). Freshwater inflow into the Aransas Bay comes from Mission River, Aransas River, and Copano Creek. The region is relatively dry otherwise and prone to droughts. Corpus Christi receives an average of 76.2 cm (30 in) of rain annually; evaporation usually exceeds 177.8 cm (70 in) (Holt, 1998; Handley and others, 2007). The San Antonio-Nueces Coastal Basin drains into Aransas Bay. The Nueces River basin covers 43,253 km2 (16,700 miles2), from northwest of San Antonio, flowing southeast to where it drains into Nueces and Corpus Christi Bays (Holt, 1998). The Nueces-Rio Grande basin covers approximately 18,648 km2 (7,200 miles2) and flows partially into Corpus Christi Bay (as well as the upper Laguna Madre). The inflow from Nueces River has declined by approximately 20 percent over the past several decades, partly due to construction of lakes and reservoirs, particularly Lake Corpus Christi and Choke Canyon reservoir. The Corpus Christi Estuary receives approximately 35 percent of the total freshwater inflow of 1,480,178,205 cubic meters (m3) (1.2 million acre-feet) in the region; the Aransas Estuary receives about 53 percent. Tidal range is only 0.46 m (1.5 ft) on the Gulf shoreline and 0.15 m (0.5 ft) in Nueces Bay. Strong winds are the primary force behind water circulation in the Coastal Bend estuaries.

Citation Information

Publication Year 2012
Title Corpus Christi, Nueces, and Aransas Bays: Chapter C in <i>Emergent wetlands status and trends in the northern Gulf of Mexico: 1950-2010</i>
Authors Lawrence R. Handley, Kathryn A. Spear, Eleonor Taylor, Cindy A. Thatcher
Publication Type Report
Publication Subtype Other Government Series
Series Title
Series Number
Index ID 70147452
Record Source USGS Publications Warehouse
USGS Organization National Wetlands Research Center

Related Content