The US state of Texas is located in the country’s South Central region. With an area of 268,581 sq mi and an estimated population of 28.7 million, Texas ranks as second most extensive and second most populous US state. Texas was admitted to the Union on December 28, 1845, as the 28th US state. Nicknamed the "Lone Star State," Texas has many official state symbols. These include a state flower (Texas bluebonnet), state tree (pecan), state bird (northern mockingbird), among many others. Texas also has an official state fish: the Guadalupe bass. The state fish is just one of several aquatic state symbols designated by the state.
Designating the Aquatic Symbols of Texas
Designated in 1989, the official state fish of Texas is the Guadalupe bass (Micropterus treculi). However, in addition to a state fish, Texas also has a number of other official state aquatic animals. The red drum (Sciaenops ocellatus) was selected as the official saltwater fish of Texas in 2011, while the Kemp's ridley sea turtle (Lepidochelys kempii) was chosen as the state sea turtle in 2013. The Kemp's ridley sea turtle, which is an endangered species, was picked following efforts by fourth graders from Galveston’s Oppe Elementary School. The Texas gulf shrimp was designated as the Texas state crustacean in 2015, and the lightning whelk (Busycon perversum pulleyi) has been the state shell since 1987.
Texas State Fish: Guadalupe Bass
Native only to Texas, the Guadalupe bass is a small fish that lives in fast-moving rivers and streams of central Hill County, including the Guadalupe River, after which the fish was named. An adult has an average weight of one pound and a length of about 12 inches. The Guadalupe bass is green in color, ranging from lime to olive, has black or olive green spots, and can be difficult to distinguish from the smallmouth bass and spotted bass. The species is categorized as "Near Threatened."
Texas Saltwater Fish: Red Drum
Also referred to as channel bass, puppy drum, redfish, spottail bass, or simply red, the red drum is a game fish that inhabits the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of Massachusetts south to Florida, and the Gulf of Mexico, from Florida to northern Mexico, which includes Texas. An adult red drum can weigh between six and eight pounds. The upper tail of the red drum features a distinguishing black spot. Scientists suspect the spot helps fool predators to attacking the tail of the fish instead of its head.
State Sea Turtle: Kemp's Ridley Sea Turtle
Also known as the Atlantic ridley sea turtle, the Kemp’s ridley sea turtle is the rarest species of sea turtle, and is currently classified as critically endangered. Upon maturity, the turtle can have a length of between 23 and 28 inches and weigh between 79 and 99 pounds, making it the smallest sea turtle species. The Kemp’s ridley sea turtle prefers warm water and typically migrates to the Gulf of Mexico and the western Atlantic Ocean.
Texas State Crustacean: Texas Gulf Shrimp
According to the Texas Shrimp Association, the Texas gulf shrimp consists of brown shrimp, white shrimp, and pink shrimp. The low-calorie protein source is special within the US given that most shrimp consumed is imported. The shrimp is also important to the economy given the revenue and jobs it creates within the fishing industry. The Texas gulf shrimp is also a state symbol of Alabama.
Texas State Shell: Lightning Whelk
The lightning whelk is a predatory sea snail that inhabits sandy or shallow embayments. The species is unique in that it is a left-handed shell, as most sprawling shells are right-handed. These small creatures, which only grow to a maximum of a foot in length, are believed to have existed for approximately 60 million years. Indigenous populations have historically used the lightning whelk for food, lamps, tools, and weapons.