Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve

Named for the river systems that flow into it, the Mission-Aransas reserve protects 185,708 acres of coastal prairie, oak motte, riparian freshwater, salt marsh habitat, tidal flats, seagrass beds, mangroves, and oyster reefs. The north side of the reserve is the winter home to the critically endangered whooping crane. Reserve staff work to bring together scientists, landowners, policy-makers, and the public to ensure that coastal management decisions benefit flora and fauna, water quality, and people. The reserve addresses some of Texas’ most critical coastal resource issues, including allocation of freshwater inflows, accumulation of marine debris, and species migration patterns.

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Vital Stats

  • State: Texas
  • State Partner:

    University of Texas, Marine Science Institute

  • Acreage: 185,708
  • Habitats: Coastal prairie, oak motte, riparian freshwater, salt marsh, tidal flats, seagrass beds, mangroves, and oyster reefs
  • Designated: 2006
  • Site Profile: View
The Mission-Aransas reserve participates in the System-Wide Monitoring Program (SWMP), which collects, analyzes, and makes available weather, water quality, and nutrient data from all National Estuarine Research Reserves. Learn more


Meet at the Marine Science Institute Visitor Center for public lectures, guided wetlands tours, summer marine science film series, or winter walking tours. Join children’s activities, including birding 101, early explorer labs, and sea stories, and visit the new Estuary Explorium to learn about local estuaries.


Participate in citizen science projects, photograph special events, care for injured coastal wildlife, or go on “turtle patrol” in nesting season. You’ll find many opportunities to get involved at the Mission-Aransas reserve.

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Become a Friend

Join Friends of the Ark to support education, volunteering, and funding for the Animal Rehabilitation Ark (ARK) in Port Aransas, with local projects and outreach programs. The Mission-Aransas reserve also accepts support through the University of Texas development office.

Join Today

Did you know?

Approximately 300 wild whooping cranes migrate every year to the Mission-Aransas reserve.


Jace Tunnell
Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve
Marine Science Institute
750 Channel View Drive, Port Aransas, TX 78373
T: 361-749-3046
E: jace.tunnell@austin.utexas.edu