Saltwater Social Media

Julie Hagen | Social Media Specialist
Saltwater Social Media

In 2016, having an online presence through social media is expected from any organization looking to connect with its customers, consumers or constituents. Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) is no different. Social media apps and the web allow for an unprecedented amount of information to be exchanged between government agencies and the public. These conversations are authentic and informative and have the power to shape statewide regulations.

For almost 40 years, TPWD Coastal Fisheries' field staff have worked to gather data about Texas marine life and coastal environments. Their work has helped to regulate fishing and boating practices for generations of Texans through the use of best practices and data analysis. But in the age of the Internet, this can be taken a step further to include the public in our scientific data gathering.

How can anglers help? One example is through the reporting of red snapper landings. The iSnapper app was created by our partners at the Harte Research Institute and aims to collect red snapper catch data from recreational anglers. The iSnapper app is a unique opportunity for anglers to help make these changes a reality through the reporting of their catches and first hand experiences. Data from the iSnapper app will help supplement the survey data already being collected to give a well-rounded picture of the health of our red snapper fishery. The app also updates you about weather conditions, lets you save photos and easily share your catch on social media. It's a great all-in-one app for any recreational angler. The iSnapper app is available for download on your smart phone or you can visit to report your catch.

Another way to share is through the Tarpon Observation Network. Landing a tarpon is considered a lifetime achievement for a recreational angler, so why not brag about it to TPWD! The Tarpon Observation Network (TON) is an online portal ( that allows anglers to report tarpon sightings and landings while also graphically displaying the historical and current distribution of tarpon along the coast. Only one of every eight hookups results in the angler actually landing a tarpon, but observations from the public help us to better understand juvenile tarpon habitats and their movements along the shoreline. More data is needed because of the significant reduction in the tarpon population due to overfishing and loss of habitat. The more data reported the more we can learn about this elusive sportfish.

While we appreciate the data the public can provide us, we also want to share information with you. During the fall of 2015 Texas experienced a red tide event along the coast. Red tide is a naturally occurring alga that when occurring in high numbers kills fish and causes allergy like symptoms in humans. These harmful algal bloom events impact anglers, residents and visitors and are closely monitored by TPWD. Therefore, it's important to keep the public informed through multiple forms of communication. The TPWD Harmful Algal Bloom Education and Research Facebook page ( played a key role this summer in providing the public with the most up-to-date red tide information. The page continuously posted about the severity of red tide blooms in specific areas and where fish kills were reported. Staff from all the Coastal Fisheries' field offices in the state pitched in to help collect this data and share it online. By using Facebook to share information, it allowed a conversation to develop between the agency and the public. Constituents were able to ask specific questions about red tide and receive accurate answers from our team of experts. The conversations in the comment sections also helped our staff and coordinating agencies create a bigger picture of how this red tide event was affecting the coast.

The new Texas Parks and Wildlife - Coastal Fisheries Facebook page ( wants to serve a similar purpose and be the go to place for up-to-date information about what is happening at the coast. So let us know what you are up to by sharing your photos, asking your questions and learning more about what we do.