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.
On Sunday, Texas A&M University System Chancellor John Sharp offered the Marine Science Institute temporary laboratory and office space on the Corpus Christi campus, which is led by President Kelly Quintanilla.
“In times of disaster, Texans pull together,” Quintanilla said. “Chancellor John Sharp and I welcome students, faculty and staff from UT’s Marine Science Institute.”
In a statement Sunday, UT Austin President Gregory L. Fenves said he was “deeply grateful” for the offer.
“Our marine scientists and students perform vital research into the structure, function and health of oceans and all life that depends on them,” said Robert Dickey, director of the Marine Science Institute. “As Texas copes with the devastating impact of this week’s storms and our institute works to recover, we appreciate enormously that Texas A&M Harte Research Institute graciously offered space for our faculty and students to continue their work.”
Hurricane Harvey caused extensive damage during the weekend at UTMSI’s main facilities in Port Aransas. There are also reports of damage to the Bay Education Center visitors site in Rockport. The marina, as well as some scientist housing, weathered the storm with minimal observable damage.
News came this morning that the institute’s research pier was destroyed. Additionally, the most recent addition to UTMSI’s main campus, the Estuarine Research Center facility, suffered significant roof damage and water penetration damage. Other buildings — including administration, the Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory and some housing facilities on Beach Street for visiting scientists and students — sustained water and roof damage. Parts of the Amos Rehabilitation Keep, an on-site animal rehabilitation Center, were damaged, but all its resident seabirds and turtles survived and were safely released or relocated to the Texas Sealife Center in Corpus Christi. The UTMSI campus is temporarily closed as the university moves forward with plans to rebuild.