News

From the College of Natural Sciences
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.

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Spying on Fish Love Calls Could Help Protect Them from Overfishing

Marine scientists have discovered a way to use the incredibly loud, distinctive sounds that fish make when they gather to spawn--not to catch them but to protect them. Illustration credit: Jenna Luecke/Univ. of Texas at Austin.

About a third of the world's fish stocks are being overfished, meaning they're being harvested faster than they can reproduce, and species that spawn seasonally in large groups are especially vulnerable, easy for fishers to locate and plucked from the water often before they've seeded the next generation.

Can Sound Save a Fish? (Audio)

Can Sound Save a Fish? (Audio)

Gulf Corvina look pretty ordinary—they're a couple of feet long and silvery. Yet the sounds they make—when millions get together to spawn—are a kind of wonder of the natural world. It's also why they are in danger.

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

UT Austin Receives $5.6M for Long-term Study of Alaska’s Arctic Coast

The National Science Foundation (NSF) has made a $5.6 million, five-year grant to The University of Texas at Austin to establish a Long Term Ecological Research (LTER) program and site along the northern Alaskan coast. Research at the site will focus on changes occurring both on land and in the ocean that affect Arctic ecosystems over time. This research could help native communities anticipate possible impacts of future climate changes on the fish and wildlife they depend on.

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

Discovery of New Microbes Sheds Light on How Complex Life Arose

An international team of scientists, including researchers from Uppsala University in Sweden, The University of Texas at Austin and elsewhere, discovered several new microbes carrying genes that until now were thought to be unique to a group of more complex life forms including humans. This finding supports a decades-old hypothesis that complex life first arose from the merger of two simpler life forms.

The Mighty Copepod (Audio)

The Mighty Copepod (Audio)

These teeny shrimp-like critters at the bottom of the ocean food web seem totally unimportant. But throw in an oil spill and some well-intentioned human intervention and they can have a huge impact, right up to the top of the food web, including sea turtles, dolphins and humans. Meet the mighty copepod.

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Arctic Found to Play Unexpectedly Large Role in Removing Nitrogen

Areas of the Arctic play a larger role than previously thought in the global nitrogen cycle—the process responsible for keeping a critical element necessary for life flowing between the atmosphere, the land and oceans. The finding is reported in a new study of the continental shelf in the Arctic Ocean published Wednesday in the journal Nature Communications.

Clever Fish Keep Cool

Clever Fish Keep Cool

Ocean warming is occurring at such a rapid rate that fish are searching for cooler waters to call home.

Marine Science Graduate Student Awarded Nationally Recognized Fellowship

Marine Science Graduate Student Awarded Nationally Recognized Fellowship

Arley Muth, a first-year Ph.D. student in the Department of Marine Science, was one of 52 graduate students nationwide who were recently awarded a Science to Achieve Results (STAR) Graduate Fellowship from the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).

Mammal Magnetism of Interest to Marine Scientists

Mammal Magnetism of Interest to Marine Scientists

Weddell seals spend 95 percent of their time swimming under Antarctic sea ice. They can dive to great depths and hold their breath for stretches as long as an hour at a time, even while pursuing their prey at rapid speeds. Despite this physical prowess, the seals are just as vulnerable as humans to drowning if they can't find a breathing hole in the underwater darkness.