HOUSTON — Even in those murky, muddy waters, Houston bayous have had their fair share of sightings over the years.
Alligators are pretty common, and otters? Not so much. But even in 1995, somehow a manatee swam its way up Buffalo Bayou.
So that got us thinking: What else lives in Houston bayous? First, we asked Buffalo Bayou parkgoers what they thought.
“Probably a lot of bacteria. And a lot of trash," Matthew Mata-Aguilar said.
“It’s going to be beavers. It's going to be ducks. Hopefully not people," Ginter Senfeldas said.
“Definitely reptiles and amphibians," Matthew Leal said.
“A lot of germs, a lot of weird animals," Daniela Weisz said.
“Maybe if there was something like a snapping turtle," Tucker Keren said.
“What are those little like water rats? Those big things that come out of the water," Mata-Aguilar said.
But what’s really in our bayous? We also asked the experts.
“It’s more like what can’t you find? You’ll find gator gar, you’ll find catfish," said Simone Leonard with Buffalo Bayou Partnership. “Saltwater fish swim up from Galveston Bay into the bayou. Both poisonous and non-venomous snakes.”
“Softshell turtles, you can find in there that are pretty good size," said Kevin Hodge, Houston Zoo general curator. "Even large alligator snapping turtles.”
In Brays Bayou, Texas Parks and Wildlife have caught loads of creatures, including large mouth bass, grass carp, blue catfish, tilapia, Sheepshead, armored catfish, spotted gar, and they even caught these two creatures, normally found in the ocean -- a red drum and a blue crab.
So you’ve got everything you’d expect to see in a natural freshwater channel, but because the bayous are connected to the Gulf, there could be some swimmers you’d never expect.
“In theory, if there’s enough water in the bayou, you could get things like bull sharks that come from the gulf into the bayou area," Hodge said.
But if you want your neighbors to keep living here, you’ll have to keep their home clean.
“When there is plastic in the water, fish and ducks and insects, they all ingest it. So it’s really important to keep the bayou clean so they can live not only happily, but healthily," Leonard said.