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From the College of Natural Sciences
Newly Discovered Deep-Sea Microbes Gobble Greenhouse Gases and Perhaps Oil Spills, Too

Newly Discovered Deep-Sea Microbes Gobble Greenhouse Gases and Perhaps Oil Spills, Too

Researchers have documented extensive diversity in the microbial communities living in the extremely hot, deep-sea sediments located in the Guaymas Basin in the Gulf of California. This view of the Guaymas Basin seafloor was taken through the window of the Alvin submersible by Brett Baker in November 2018.

Scientists at The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute have discovered nearly two dozen new types of microbes, many of which use hydrocarbons such as methane and butane as energy sources to survive and grow—meaning the newly identified bacteria might be helping to limit the concentrations of greenhouse gases in the atmosphere and might one day be useful for cleaning up oil spills.

Undeterred, Gulf Fish Spawn Despite Hurricane

Undeterred, Gulf Fish Spawn Despite Hurricane

Even a Category 4 hurricane doesn't kill the mood for coastal fish – and that's good news for all species, as well as for a multibillion-dollar recreational fishing industry. As extreme weather patterns threaten to bring more and larger storms to the Gulf Coast, new findings from the University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute show some important fish species are able to continue spawning even in a severe storm.

Resilient Marine Scientists Home Again as Lab Building Reopens after Harvey

Resilient Marine Scientists Home Again as Lab Building Reopens after Harvey

Being a marine scientist entails coping with extremes, from scuba diving deep in the ocean to interacting with living organisms that are among the planet's most mysterious creatures. Nonetheless, Hurricane Harvey was a whole new extreme for The University of Texas's Marine Science Institute. 

A Surprising Effect of Texas Drought: Changes to the Marine Food Web

A Surprising Effect of Texas Drought: Changes to the Marine Food Web

When Texas' worst drought on record hit the state between 2011 and 2015, it did more than dry up rivers and lakes. It changed the chemical composition of fish eggs, which revealed bigger changes to the marine life in Aransas Bay.

Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Success of Conservation Efforts for Important Caribbean Reef Fish Hinges on Climate Change

Photo credit: Alfredo Barroso

For more than 20 years, conservationists have been working to protect one of the most recognizable reef fish in the Caribbean, the endangered and iconic Nassau grouper, and thanks to those efforts, populations of this critical reef fish have stabilized in some areas. But in a new paper, published in the journal Diversity and Distributions, marine scientists said climate change might severely hinder those efforts by the end of this century.

National Academies Makes Awards to Marine Scientists Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey

National Academies Makes Awards to Marine Scientists Impacted by Hurricanes Harvey

The Gulf Research Program of the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine today announced that two marine scientists from the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) would receive grants totaling nearly $100,000 to assist in the recovery of scientific research efforts in the wake of Hurricane Harvey.

University of Texas Regents Vote to Rebuild Marine Science Institute

University of Texas Regents Vote to Rebuild Marine Science Institute

A proposed project to rebuild the Marine Science Institute, which was damaged in Hurricane Harvey, was approved Monday by the University of Texas System Board of Regents. The project will help the institute come back into full operation, according to Marine Science Institute leadership, and it will pay for replacing roofs and mechanical systems, supporting interior and exterior restoration of numerous buildings damaged in the storm, rebuilding a research pier that was destroyed by a drilling ship in the aftermath of the storm and replacing student housing. 

Six Months Since Harvey and Rebuilding Continues at Marine Science Institute

Six Months Since Harvey and Rebuilding Continues at Marine Science Institute

It's been six months since Hurricane Harvey slammed into the Texas coast and the students, faculty and staff of the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) in Port Aransas are still working to pick up the pieces of their lives and get their work back on track.

Speed, Endurance and Performance Factor into Fish Olympics

Speed, Endurance and Performance Factor into Fish Olympics

Researchers conduct "races" to test the swimming speed of red drum. Photo credit: Andrew Esbaugh.

The Winter Olympics — a fantastic competition that tests the limits of human performance in a variety of sports — bears a close resemblance to some events underway on the Texas Gulf Coast where, at the University of Texas Marine Science Institute, researchers are testing the limits of fish. They may not win a gold medal, but the scores in these games can reveal which fish are most likely to succeed in the game of life.

UTMSI Community Rebuilds Town and Research

UTMSI Community Rebuilds Town and Research

More than a month after Hurricane Harvey's eyewall passed directly over the University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) at Port Aransas, the Institute and its surrounding community are still recovering from the devastations brought by the Category 4 hurricane. UTMSI, the oldest marine research facility on the Texas coast, sustain...
UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

UT Marine Science Institute Awarded Grant to Complete Gulf Oil Spill Research

DROPPS scientists use lasers to investigate how plumes of oil and dispersant move through a water column. That movement changes when other animals, such as this marine invertebrate called a ctenophore, are present. Photo by Jeffery Cordero.

A consortium led by The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) is receiving $4.5 million in the third multi-million-dollar grant since 2012 supporting research on the impact of oil spills and dispersants on the Gulf of Mexico. Coming less than a month after Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage on the UTMSI campus, the announcement was made by the Gulf of Mexico Research Initiative, a $500 million research program funded by British Petroleum in the wake of the Deep Water Horizon oil spill.

Update from the Marine Science Institute after Hurricane Harvey

Update from the Marine Science Institute after Hurricane Harvey

The message below is an update from University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute Director and Marine Science Department Chair Dr. Robert Dickey.

UT Marine Scientists to Relocate Temporarily to Texas A&M’s Corpus Christi Campus

UT Marine Scientists to Relocate Temporarily to Texas A&M’s Corpus Christi Campus

University of Texas Marine Science Institute staff members Alicia Walker and Andrew Orgill release a pair of green sea turtles that had been recently rehabilitated on site and survived Hurricane Harvey. Credit: U. of Texas at Austin.

PORT ARANSAS, Texas — Dozens of displaced researchers, students and staff members from The University of Texas at Austin's Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) will spend the coming weeks at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi's Harte Research Institute, allowing research and educational activities to continue.

From Student to Philanthropist: Abell’s Transformational Gift Creates New Opportunities

From Student to Philanthropist: Abell’s Transformational Gift Creates New Opportunities

On her way to the library, part-time marine science student Mary Abell stumbled upon the bustle of arrangements being made for a Marine Science Advisory Council meeting.  At that time, little did she know that she and her husband, Joe would go on to have a lasting connection to The University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) which would become as strong and lasting as the granite jetties that border the Institute.

Oil Impairs Ability of Coral Reef Fish to Find Homes and Evade Predators

Oil Impairs Ability of Coral Reef Fish to Find Homes and Evade Predators

Damselfish, Chromis species. Photo credit: Jacob Johansen.

Just as one too many cocktails can lead a person to make bad choices, a few drops of oil can cause coral reef fish to make poor decisions, according to a paper published today in Nature Ecology & Evolution. A team of fisheries biologists led by Jacob Johansen and Andrew Esbaugh of The University of Texas Marine Science Institute have discovered that oil impacts the higher-order thinking of coral reef fish in a way that could prove dangerous for them—and for the coral reefs where they make their home.