A tale of two Gulf spills: A research consortium of 19 institutions from 5 countries studying the impacts of oil spills on the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Murawski is a fisheries biologist and marine ecologist involved in understanding the impacts of human activities on the sustainability of ocean ecosystems. He has developed approaches for understanding the impacts of fishing on marine fish complexes exploited in mixed-species aggregations. Additionally, his work on impacts of marine protected areas and other management options has formed the scientific basis for regulation. Such assessments can help inform investments to rebuild the Gulf of Mexico from effects of the oil spill, loss of juvenile nursery areas, nutrient enrichment, overfishing and other factors.
Dr. Murawski currently serves as Director of the Center for Integrated Analysis and Modeling of Gulf Ecosystems (C-IMAGE), which is funded by a grant from the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative. Additionally, he is applying advanced technology solutions to the next generation of marine ecosystem surveys through a joint program with the Center for Ocean Technology to develop towed video systems for fish and habitat assessments. In addition to his science activities, Dr. Murawski is a USA Delegate and formerly a vice-president of theInternational Council for the Exploration of the SEA (ICES), a 20-nation organization dedicated to increasing understanding of ocean ecosystems in the convention area, which includes the United States, Canada and 18 European countries. He is also a member of the National Academy of Sciences' Ocean Studies Board, and USA Committee for the International Institute for Advanced Systems Analysis. In 2013, Dr. Murawski was also appointed a committee member for the Decadal Survey of Ocean Sciences 2015. This survey, managed by the National Academies, will set the science priorities for the next decade in the context of the current state of Knowledge, ongoing research activities, and resource availability.
I am interested in how sound is used by marine mammals and how sound can be used as a tool for assessment of marine mammal populations. Recent advancements in acoustic recording technology have allowed long-term and broad-band records of underwater sound to be collected. These recordings open new windows into the behavior and distribution of marine mammals (as well as other marine organisms such as fish). Over the past decade, I have been studying how sound can be used to better understand mysticete whales, such as blue and fin whales. Some of the key results of this work are that sound may be an effective means for determining the population structure of these animals, since the songs produced by blue and fin whale have regional dialects, and these may be used by the animals as an aid for mate selection. Likewise, we have discovered that different characteristic sounds are associated with foraging and with mating behavior, and that these sounds are used with different intensity over a seasonal cycle. With the availability of expanded recording bandwidth, we have recently begun to make long-term recordings of odontocetes (toothed whales and dolphins). I has been possible to use echolocation click structure for species identification, and also to identify population structure using differences in echolocation clicks. A future challenge will be to use passive acoustic data for quantitative estimates of marine mammal abundance.
Dr. Greg Stunz is a Professor of Marine Biology and Endowed Chair for Fisheries and Ocean Health at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. A major focus of Dr. Stunz's research program is to provide scientific data for sustainable management of our marine fisheries and ocean resources to ensure healthy environments. Greg's research program is diverse but currently focuses on migration patterns marine life using a variety of state-of-the-art electronic tracking devices, how marine animals interact with their habitats, and the vital role that estuaries and near-shore waters play in sustaining marine populations. Specifically, his research includes understanding the roles of apex predators in Gulf ecosystems and tracking their movement patterns, dolphin-fish migration patterns and life history, red snapper ecology and management, several projects dealing with many estuarine fishes such as spotted seatrout and red drum and their sustainable management, and many others.
Dr. Daly's research interests focus on zooplankton ecology with the aim of understanding the physical and biological factors that control the abundance and distribution of zooplankton and the role of zooplankton in marine food webs, biogeochemical cycles, and fisheries oceanography. Currently funded projects include investigations of (1) the Gulf of Mexico lower trophic food web response to the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, (2) the role of marine snow in the sedimentation of Deepwater Horizon oil to the sea floor, and (3) ecosystem dynamics and predator-prey interactions in McMurdo Sound, Antarctica, using the SCINI remotely operated vehicle with a variety of sensors.
Dr. Daly is a 2015 Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. She also is the Chair of the International Science Advisory Board for Ocean Networks Canada and serves on the NSF Regional Class Research Vessel Science Oversight Committee and the U.S. Ocean Carbon and Biogeochemistry Scientific Steering Committee.
Dr. Tunnell joined the University in 1974. Through his instruction, insight, and interests, his depth of experience and understanding of the Gulf of Mexico have reached throughout the world. He was an early advocate for strong relationships between the United States, Mexico, and Cuba to research and support the Gulf of Mexico. As a broadly trained marine biologist/ecologist with a particular interest in field studies on coral reefs and coastal areas of the Gulf, seashells of Texas, oil spills in the marine environment, and biodiversity of the Gulf of Mexico, he is often asked to present to a variety of audiences.
Dr. Tunnell has been instrumental in developing not only the Harte Research Institute, but also founding the Center for Coastal Studies and pioneering the concept of co-locating environmental and natural resources agencies to the TAMU-CC campus. As a committed steward and scientist, today Dr. Tunnell balances his time between research, editor of our two book series, and liaison work with Mexico and Cuba.
In 2010, Dr. Tunnell was interviewed by Jeff Young about his research on the Ixtoc-1 oil well blowout in the Bay of Campeche. Listen here!
Nearly all marine life depends on light. Dr. Hu's research is focused on addressing coastal ocean problems using primarily optics. These problems include river-ocean interactions (transport and transform of particulate and dissolved matters), carbon cycling, algal blooms, coral reef environmental health and ecosystem connectivity, climate change and anthropogenic influence on coastal/estuarine water quality. As light exists both below and above the surface of the ocean, Dr. Hu and his group members at the Optical Oceanography Lab approach these problems through 1) characterizing the underwater light field using the state-of-the-art optical equipment; 2) developing satellite remote sensing algorithms and data products specifically targeted to these problems; and 3) integrating these products with other data to understand coastal ocean changes in bio-optical properties as well as their causes and consequences.
The current research at OOL emphasizes the use of autonomous underwater vehicles (AUVs) to better understand the 3-dimensional light field and algal bloom formation, and high-resolution satellite remote sensing from which customized data products are derived for estuaries, turbid coastal waters, and optically shallow waters (e.g., coral reefs, seagrass). The recent establishment of a virtual antenna system (VAS) and a virtual buoy system (VBS) greatly facilitates data and information sharing on coastal blooms and general water quality with a variety of user groups.