Gulf Coast, Texas, USA

“The coast of the great State of Texas, washed by the tides and currents of that magnificent inland sea, the Gulf of Mexico, offers at the very doors of the State University an unrivaled opportunity for the establishment of a marine station. Strange animals and plants of a fauna and flora but little known, invite the research of the student and investigator.” 1892, UT Board of Regents. The University of Texas Marine Science Institute was established in 1946. 

“The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve brings together scientists, landowners, policy-makers, and the public to ensure that coastal management decisions benefit flora and fauna, water quality, and people.” 

The Mission-Aransas Estuary is a large (463 km2 surface area), shallow (average depth 2m) and relatively pristine subtropical embayment on the south Texas Gulf Coast. The estuary is lagoonal, with a nearly continuous barrier island separating it from the open Gulf of Mexico. Freshwater inflows to the estuary are low and episodic, evaporation rates are high and tides are small resulting in a very long estuarine water replacement time of ~ 1 year, and occasional hypersaline conditions may occur. The Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve (NERR) was established in 2006, and provides long term monitoring of water quality at 15-minute intervals from 5 permanent monitoring platforms, and monthly nutrient and biological monitoring data, including phytoplankton and zooplankton. The program is also a Sentinel Site for climate change, and maintains several Surface Elevation Tables (SETs) to monitor sediment subsidence and deposition, and performs annual vegetation monitoring of salt marsh, mangroves and seagrasses. The NERR also contains the Aransas National Wildlife Refuge, the winter home to the only wild flock of Whooping Cranes in North America, and hosts the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK) to care for injured birds and sea turtles, including the highly endangered Kemps Ridley. We are one of 29 NERRs in the US, and NOAA provides funding for research proposals addressing estuarine management issues. We welcome inquiries about potential research collaborations. 

MarineGEO Team

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