The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi supports the Harte Model: integrating science in alignment with economics, policy and sociological applications throughout the Coastal Bend. The Harte Research Institute’s (HRI) outreach and work also expands to neighboring countries including Cuba and Mexico, serving greater Gulf Coast ecosystems.
“Stronger and natural ecological environments are supported with stronger human environments,” said David Yoskowitz, senior executive director and endowed chair for socio-economics.
Founder and conservationist Ed Harte had a new idea in mind upon HRI’s creation — to expand critical research while serving the greater Corpus Christi community. Yoskowitz said today a strong focus in supporting conservation work has guided the institute’s organizational DNA, through the continued support of local researchers and volunteers.
Working across disciplines, HRI continues to cultivate a research institute for scientists to work collaboratively across areas of specialty. The initial vision of the institute has now grown to a $ 15 million international research body, supporting nine research programs and 135 students.
In 2010, a profound change occurred within the Institute, pushing new efforts to clean up aspects of the oil spill crisis. The Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico prompted the creation of a consortium, identifying the impact of the spill and damages that would later be awarded.
Yoskowitz said the outcome has enhanced the focus on protecting the natural environment and improving ecological health across the Gulf and other local bodies of water. Through the help of local anglers, HRI also has developed tracking systems for data capture to monitor sea life and wildlife along the coast.
“If we can get people involved in the science, this will help us make the difference,” Yoskowitz said.
The Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, located at the Institute, helped to develop the iSnapper mobile app. In addition to catch statistics, this electronic logbook reporting mechanism helps generate data that are typically difficult for researchers to collect. In addition, the ReleaSense initiative provides information for best practices, such as catch and release practices for sportfish species. Plus, the Greater Amberjack Count initiative can offer a monetary reward up to $250 to support healthy populations.
HRI also focuses on teaching new generations about the importance of protecting critical habitat and expanding the Oso Bay Wetlands Preserve and Learning Center workshop series.
“During summer, each month we do workshops working with kids and the community,” said Megan Radke, HRI’s communication coordinator.
As visitors travel in from across Texas, neighboring states and some international destinations, many seek refuge from city life to reconnect with the vibrant, colorful and restorative natural resources along the coastline. Recreational activities such as deep-sea fishing, swimming and birdwatching usher in newcomers each year.
Socially and recreationally, natural resources are regaining appeal. The notion of connecting with nature for restorative and wellness purposes continues to regain popularity for those seeking a connection back to Mother Nature and her inhabitants. Fortunately, for Coastal Bend residents, these resources are just a few splashes away.
harteresearch.org | 6300 Ocean Dr. | (361) 825-2000