Located on the upper Texas coast, Sea Rim State Park is 4,141 acres of remote coastal land. Sea rim is where salt marsh meets the sea, hence the park’s name. Marshes provide food and habitat for animals, and they also help protect inland areas from the effects of storms.
The park sits in the Gulf Prairies and Marshes natural region. It consists of sandy beach with low sand dunes and extensive marshlands further inland. The McFaddin National Wildlife Refuge, the Gulf Intracoastal Waterway and the Sabine Ship Channel border the park.
State Highway 87 divides the park into two units.
- The Beach Unit includes 5.2 miles of Gulf beaches and dunes.
- The Marsh Unit has lagoons and wetlands, salt meadows and tidal drainages, and two lakes (Fence and Salt lakes). This area abuts the J.D. Murphree Wildlife Management Area.
Animals that inhabit this park range from microscopic marine life to birds and mammals. Habitats range from the surf, beach and dunes, to ponds and brackish and intermediate marshes (see marsh definitions here). The marshes provide important breeding and foraging habitat for many species of shell and finfish.
Along the beach, you might see coquina clams, mole crabs, other small crabs and ghost shrimp.
White and brown shrimp, crabs, and various sport fishes such as red drum, speckled trout and flounder thrive in the park’s lakes and bayous.
Ghost crabs: Ghost crabs live in the backshore, or the dry portion of the beach. These camouflaged creatures dart to the nearest burrow when approached. They eat mole crabs and coquina clams, but will also eat dead animals, decaying plants and trash left by humans.
Birds are the most frequently seen animals in both the dunes and marsh areas of the park. Many migratory birds traveling the Central Flyway stop to rest at Sea Rim State Park.
Birds such as mourning doves, sparrows, horned larks and meadowlarks visit the dunes in search of plant and insect food.
In the marsh area, most of the birds are migrants. Ducks and geese, with their webbed feet, are well suited to these wetlands. The most common waterfowl are the diving ducks and the dabbling ducks.
In the lakes, ponds and marshlands at Sea Rim, birders may see roseate spoonbills; common, snowy and cattle egrets; great blue, little blue, Louisiana, green, black-crowned and yellow-crowned night herons.
Find more information on the animals of Sea Rim State Park:
- Texas Wildlife Fact Sheets
- Butterflies and Moths of Jefferson County
- Identification Guide to Marine Organisms of Texas
- Find more information about specific birds on All About Birds
- Keep Texas Wild: Gulf Coast (YouTube video)
- Just for kids: Beach Tidings
- Just for kids: Wondrous Wetlands
Two communities of plants grow in the park.
A mosaic of salt-tolerant plants covers the sand dunes. These plants help form dunes by trapping wind-blown sand and their roots help stabilize the dunes.
Two morning glory species, goatfoot and beach, grow on the backbeach and dunes. Two mat-forming succulents also grow here: sea purslane and coast purslane. Bitter panicgrass and Virginia dropseed are perennial grasses that also help stabilize dunes.
Brackish and Intermediate Marshes
Brackish marshes are moderately saline, while intermediate marshes are nearly fresh. These marshes share features of salt marshes and freshwater marshes. Because of the lower salinity, these marshes have a wider variety of plants than do salt marshes. Plants such as Gulf cordgrass and phragmite cane grow in the marshes.
Find more information on the plants of Sea Rim State Park: