Recent and Ongoing Projects

Tracking, Reporting and Innovative Methods in Identifying Litter in the Galveston Bay Watershed
Houston Advanced Research Center
Feb 2020 – Present

Black Cat  worked with the Houston Advanced Research Center (HARC) to develop methodology for a comparison between plastic litter survey techniques in the Galveston Bay watershed. Funded by the Garver Black Hilyard Family Foundation, the project is a collaboration between Black Cat, HARC, and Keep Texas Beautiful. Through field trials, we have refined a rapid assessment technique to gather data on plastic beverage containers/ bottles that can be easily preformed by the public. We have also sampled at over 60 sites in the Galveston Bay Watershed and collected detailed information on quantity and composition of marine debris.

EPA GOM Trash Free Waters – Trash and Plastics on the Upper Texas Coast
American Bird Conservancy
SPLASh (Stopping Plastics and Litter Along Shorelines)
Aug 2020 – Present

Black Cat  is subcontracted to the American Bird Conservancy's SPLASh program. Black Cat serves as a project liaison between SPLASh and other local and state marine debris programs. We are working with SPLASh and local partners to expand and enhance the Partners in Litter Prevention website and resources. Black Cat is producing multiple online StoryMaps for use on the SPLASh website, assists with field work and volunteer events, conducts training on methods for volunteers, and completes other duties as needed.

Mapping of Intertidal Oyster Reef in West Galveston Bay 
Dec 2017 – January 2021

Black Cat partnered with the University of Houston and the Gulf Coast Bird Observatory on a exciting project to assess intertidal oyster reef habitat in West Galveston Bay. Funded by the Galveston Bay Estuary Program's Monitoring and Research Subcommittee. Black Cat provided maps of potential reef generated from orthophotos in a GIS analysis. GCBO and UH conducted field work to groundtruth potential reef and to collect data on assemblages of bird species and invertebrate communities on reefs.



The Galveston Bay Watershed Trash Action Plan
Dec 2016 – Present

Black Cat GIS partnered with HARC and the Galveston Bay Estuary Program in late 2016 to begin working on a partner-driven Action Plan to address marine debris in the Galveston Bay area. Check out our current progress at .

Vision: The Houston-Galveston Litter and Marine Debris Prevention Stakeholders envision a region free from trash and plastic pollution that impacts our bayous, lakes and rivers that lead to Galveston Bay.

Mission: To investigate and prevent the adverse impacts of litter and plastic pollution on our natural resources, wildlife, economy, public health and our quality of life.


Piping plover usage, habitat changes, and public influence of a newly acquired beach on Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge
Sep 2018 – May 2019

The purpose of this project is to determine the presence, usage, and response to human disturbance of the federally listed threatened piping plover’s (Charadruis melodus) on the Anahuac National Wildlife Refuge’s newly acquired beach property. This study will provide baseline data that refuge staff will use to guide management actions, specifically concerning the future raising of Highway 87 and creation of additional beach access points. The project will utilize existing protocol used by other researchers on the Texas coast for site comparisons and to better inform management actions on the Refuge as public use increases. End products will include a summary, recommendations, outreach material, and plover data will be incorporated into ongoing studies by Texas researchers. Expected results will be combined with current data being collected coast-wide and will aid in a standardized analysis to better inform management of this federally threatened species.

Coastal erosion of nesting bird habitats


Coastal erosion threatens habitat for a variety of species.  Black Cat has been working on analyses in Texas to determine habitat loss over time, establish baselines to track future loss and to highlight critical areas most in need of restoration.


Sargent Beach Fishing Pier endangered species monitoring


Black Cat provided endangered species monitoring services to Shelmark Engineering LLC during the construction of a new fishing pier at Sargent Beach. This project was funded via the Coastal Impact Assistance Program administered by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service- Wildlife and Sport Fish Restoration Program and was completed by May 2017. Due to the location of construction, Black Cat provided monitoring services for Piping Plovers, Red Knots and sea turtles.

Mapping discarded monofilament line


Monofilament fishing line poses a major threat to wildlife when left on beaches and fishing piers. Fishing line can entangle a wide variety of birds, marine and terrestrial mammals, sea turtles and fish. Black Cat is developing methodology to aid in collection of field data on discarded line, crab pots and fishing nets.