Boca Chica is where the Rio Grande River makes its final push to the sea, playing havoc with ocean currents as its fresh water flows into the Gulf of Mexico. Boca Chica means “little mouth” in Spanish, and the river cuts only a modest swath through the sand, thus earning its “Boca Chica” designation. However, during the Rio Grande’s periodic heavy flooding, my personal, informal “Boca Grande” applies; and drought often makes the mouth vanish altogether, inspiring my temporary “Boca Nada.”
The area encompassing Boca Chica, a coastal region that lies in the protective embrace of the Lower Rio Grande Valley National Wildlife Refuge called the Boca Chica Unit, illustrates the true character of the southern Texas coastal wetlands: dune-flanked against the ocean, pocked with shallow depressions that collect fresh rainwater and support a remarkable array of wildlife, and featuring expansive flats frequently inundated by storm waters.
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