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University of Texas Marine Science Institute

Coordinates: 27°50′N 97°03′W / 27.84°N 97.05°W / 27.84; -97.05
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University of Texas Marine Science Institute
Established1941; 83 years ago (1941)
Research typeMarine Sciences
DirectorEdward J Buskey
LocationPort Aransas, Texas, United States
27°50′N 97°03′W / 27.84°N 97.05°W / 27.84; -97.05

The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is part of the University of Texas at Austin but is located in Port Aransas, Texas. Founded in 1941, UTMSI has 15 faculty members and 21 students.[1] Notable alumni include Nancy Rabalais. Facilities on the main campus include wet and dry lab space, a wildlife rehabilitation "keep", dormitories, boat storage, offices, and a cafeteria. UTMSI has received funding appropriated by the Texas State Legislature since 1971.[2] In 2021, these funds totaled approximately $4.5 million.[3]


UTMSI was established in 1941[4] and counts Gordon Gunter[5] and Howard T. Odum among its notable former directors.

Although the modern day fleet consists entirely of small watercraft, from 1971 - 2006 UTMSI operated an 80 ft research vessel, the R/V Longhorn.[6]

In 2011, UTMSI expanded with the addition of a new Estuarine Research Center which is part of the National Estuarine Research Reserve program.[7] UTMSI together with the Estuarine Research Center operates the Bay Education Center in Rockport, Texas.[8]

In 2017, UTMSI suffered $45 million in damages due to Hurricane Harvey.[9][10]

In 2017, a new site of the Long Term Ecological Research Network was founded with UTMSI scientists as principal investigators.[11][12]


Work at UTMSI spans the globe with local work throughout the Texas Coastal Bend. Areas of research include:

  • Fish Physiology and Ecology - investigation of living marine resources, especially finfish and shellfish. This work has included studies on the effects of oil spills on marine life.[13] In 2008, UTMSI scientists published the first account of the brown tide forming species Aureoumbra lagunensis.[14]
  • Ecosystem Dynamics - integrates diverse fields of science analyzing how plants, animals, water, air, minerals and mankind interact in coastal ecosystems. This work has included studies on microplastics pollution.[15]
  • Biogeochemistry - research on foodwebs and understanding the delicate balance and flow of nutrients that are crucial for sustaining marine ecosystems. This work has included studies on the role of groundwater transport in carbon and nutrient cycling in Arctic coastal ecosystems[16]


  1. ^ UTMSI. "UTMSI Faculty Listing". Retrieved 2020-08-13.
  3. ^ "H.B. No. 1 General Appropriations Act Eighty-Sixth Legislature" (PDF).
  4. ^ UTMSI. "UTMSI Basic Facts". Retrieved 2021-02-12.
  5. ^ Shaw, Joyce M., "History of the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory," Gulf of Mexico Science, 2010(1–2), pp. 109–126.
  6. ^ Seale, Avrel (2001). "Noe's Ark". The Alcalde. Austin,Texas,USA: Texas Exes.
  7. ^ Haberer, Jaime; DeHart, Miyuki M. E.; Fuiman, Lee A. (2010). "The University of Texas Marine Science Institute:"Granddaddy" of Texas Marine Laboratories". Gulf of Mexico Science. 28 (1): 71–81. doi:10.18785/goms.2801.09.
  8. ^ "Bay Education Center officially opened".
  9. ^ "UTMSI awarded grant for repairs to damage at NERR".
  10. ^ "NOAA Helps UT Marine Science Institute Rebound from Hurricane Harvey".
  11. ^ "NSF awards $5.6 million to establish new arctic Long-Term Ecological Research site".
  12. ^ "Long-Term Research Addresses Resilience of Beaufort Sea Lagoons".
  13. ^ "Long-term impacts of Deepwater Horizon oil spill the focus of UT Marine Science Institute research".
  14. ^ DeYoe, Hudson R.; Stockwell, Dean A.; Bidigare, Robert R.; Latasa, Mikel; Johnson, Paul W.; Hargraves, Paul E.; Suttle, Curtis A. (December 1997). "Description and Characterization of the Algal Species Aureoumbra Lagunensis Gen. et Sp. Nov. and Referral of Aureoumbra and Aureococcus to the Pelagophyceae". Journal of Phycology. 33 (6): 1042–1048. doi:10.1111/j.0022-3646.1997.01042.x. ISSN 0022-3646. S2CID 86479200.
  15. ^ "As the world grapples with plastic, the US makes more of it — a lot more".
  16. ^ "Hidden source of carbon found on the Arctic coast".

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