Precipitation/Salinity:The refuge has not had any significant rainfall since February 7, when 1.66 inches were recorded. This is the longest dry period we have had this winter and without significant rainfall in the future, the habitat conditions that whooping cranes encounter in Texas next winter will likely be poor. Persistent drought has reduced freshwater availability and maintained high salinity levels within whooping crane habitat on and around the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge this winter. Over the past couple weeks, the salinity levels in San Antonio Bay have ranged between 25 and 30 ppt, well above optimal levels. Unfortunately, much of the southern Great Plains, from north Texas through Nebraska, have also experienced significant drought. Stopover habitat for whooping cranes migrating back to Canada is likely sub-optimal this spring given the current conditions.
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The Matagorda Island Unit of the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge is part of long chain of barrier islands that extend down the Texas coastline. This rugged landscape is host or home to many amazing wildlife species, including whooping cranes, Kemp's Ridley sea turtles, reddish egrets, alligators and coyotes.