Welcome to Sea Center

Welcome to Sea Center
Visitor center, complete with touch tank.
Any fool can know. The point is to understand.
~ Albert Einstein

After the success of the CCA Marine Development Center, the TPWD, DOW Chemical USA, and CCA Texas collaborated to construct a prodigy, a hatchery that would combine the best of current technology and research with education and outreach. Thus, Sea Center Texas was born.

Sea Center resides in Lake Jackson, Texas, on 76 acres of land, donated by DOW. The hatchery has 26 spawning tanks, 14 incubation tanks, 36 one-acre ponds, one quarter-acre pond (for kid fishing), and one eight-acre pond (currently acts as a backup reservoir). Water is pumped in from a canal by the DOW Chemical plant (see map). *Fun Fact: After the attack on Pearl Harbor, DOW (then located right on the bayfront) decided the plant was too vulnerable to submarine attack. In six months, using the same equipment that dug the Panama Canal, engineers cut a canal over eight miles long and started building the new DOW.*

Sea Center's hatchery functions in pretty much the same way the MDC's does, with a couple exceptions. 1) Southern flounder from Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake are spawning naturally! While strip spawning is still necessary in some populations, there are enough flounder from Galveston Bay and Sabine Lake that the staff at Sea Center get to play matchmaker with the cream of the crop (and have the correct male: female ratio to boot, 3:1). 2) Though water purification is now accomplished with mechanical filtration, the hatchery used to employ ozone for this purpose.

But Sea Center's unique side is its education and outreach department. Not that the other hatcheries don't have this, but Sea Center's is quite a level above.There is a visitor center open Tuesday through Saturday (9am-4pm) and Sunday (1pm-4pm) that houses a touch tank and several aquariums. The exhibits are in a progression as you walk through, starting with coastal organisms/environments, then to shallow water, and finally to deep water. You can also call and schedule a tour of the actual hatchery. If you're into How Stuff Works, this is the tour to take.

Sea Center has about 100 active volunteers to help with education and outreach. In the visitor center, volunteers staff the touch tank and gift shop and give tours through the exhibits. In addition, they coordinate and lead kid fishing programs and help with angler education classes. Sea Center hosts angler ed classes several times a year, in partnership with the TPWD Aquatic Education Program, which is designed to certify volunteer instructors in the TPWD Angler Education Curriculum. Once certified, the instructors have access to an array of TPWD resources that they can use to help teach others about fishing. Some volunteers are certified to teach fly fishing, and they host fly fishing classes several times a year at Sea Center.

Not the teaching type? No problem. There are plenty of opportunities to get your hands wet, literally. Sea Center is currently revamping their wetlands. Care to adopt a garden? Also, the eight-acre pond is being converted to an outreach tool in memory of Clarence Forse, a noted volunteer. Eventually, it will be available for kayaking, kid fishing, dive certification, etc. Extra hands for these projects and more are welcome.

Just want some activities to enjoy, sans planning? You're covered. The first and third Wednesdays of every month are public fishing days (by reservation). Aquarium fish feeding times are 10am and 2:30pm on Saturdays. On January 26th, from 8am-1pm, there will be a fly tying class (open to anyone ages 11 and up, pre-registration required). February 23rd is Nature Day (varying activities from 10am-3pm). Check out the website if you have questions: http://www.tpwd.state.tx.us/spdest/visitorcenters/seacenter.

At the risk of sounding like a New Year's sales ad, don't miss out! Okay, Sea Center's not going anywhere, and you won't get free shipping or 0% APR, but they do have a nice bonnethead shark you can see. And be sure to ask for the stories. Every hatchery has them.


Shane Bonnot, Hatchery Manager, Sea Center Texas
Connie Stolte, Coastal Fisheries Division, Sea Center Texas
Patty Cardoza, Sea Center Texas