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Geologic Wonders of Texas
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Dinosaur footprints
Central Texas
Galveston Island
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Dinosaur Footprints


Galveston Island is a sandy barrier island located 50 miles southeast of Houston. The island, 30 miles long and up to 3 miles wide, separates the Gulf of Mexico from West Bay, which is part of the Galveston Bay system. It lies at the eastern end of a nearly continuous chain of barrier islands that extends more than 600 miles along the Texas and Mexican coasts.


The formation of Galveston Island has created a variety of natural environments important to Texans today, both on the island and in the sheltered, lower-energy area called Galveston Bay that sits behind the island. In Galveston Bay, marshes, tidal flats, and seagrass beds serve as a nursery for many aquatic species, including shrimp.

An Historical Location

Because of its strategic location, Galveston Island—inhabited since the 1500s—has played a key role in Texas history. The island was home to many famous people of history, including Spanish explorer Cabeza de Vaca and pirate Jean Lafitte. The greatest natural disaster in U.S. history occurred on Galveston Island in 1900 when a large hurricane devastated the island and killed more than 6,000 people. For more on the history of Galveston Island, click here.

All photos (excluding aerial photos) by Jim Gibeaut, UT BEG, unless otherwise noted.




Marsh. Photo by Bill White, UT BEG.


Hurricane damage. Photographer unknown.