About Us

We seek science-driven solutions for Gulf of Mexico problems in order to advance its long-term sustainable use and conservation.

Mission

Science driven solutions for Gulf of Mexico problems.

Vision

The Gulf of Mexico is ecologically and economically sustainable.

The Harte Model

HRI is set apart from other marine research institutions by its use of the Harte Model, a unique interdisciplinary way of working that integrates our science with economic, policy and sociological expertise. While our solutions are science-driven, the challenges facing the Gulf of Mexico can't be solved by science working alone. HRI scientists are encouraged to think broadly and pursue partnerships to create lasting solutions.

Science

Our science aims to reach beyond the traditional academic environment. Grounding policy in sound science and working to bridge disciplines is even more important as we face growing environmental challenges like climate change.

People

Human and environmental health are inexorably linked. It is critical to understand the relationship between people and their environment so that sustainable management decisions can be adopted.

Policy

Our objective is to think beyond basic science to address the pressing conservation issues facing the Gulf today. HRI plays the role of impartial broker, bridging the gap between science and policy on decisions that have real world outcomes.

Economics

Growing populations put increased pressure on natural resources. Economics provides tools to address conservation and sustainable growth by helping us to better understand the benefits, tangible and intangible, that we gain from the environment.

Our History

Founded by a generous donation from local newspaper publisher and noted conservationist Ed Harte, the Harte Research Institute (HRI) for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has spent the last two decades working to ensure an ecologically and economically sustainable Gulf of Mexico. We've grown from an idea to a $15 million international research institute supporting six diverse research programs and 135 students, staff and researchers.

2000
2000

In 2002, Ed Harte approached Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi to donate $46 million to create and establish a new research institute dedicated to promoting excellence in conservation, research and innovative public policy in the Gulf of Mexico. This new institute would promote tri-national relationships between scientists from the United States, Mexico and Cuba.

2001
2001

In September 2001, Dr. John W. "Wes" Tunnell, Jr. was appointed Associate Director and the new institute was officially named the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. Over the next several years, the organization and structure of HRI was developed, the research areas were determined and the University’s first science Ph.D. program was implemented.

2005
2005

Following his retirement as University President, in January 2005 Dr. Robert Furgason became HRI’s first Executive Director. Under Furgason’s leadership, HRI hired its endowed chairs and research staff; received license and began its work in Cuba; and sponsored its first three underwater expeditions. HRI moved into its new home on campus in November 2005.

2006
2006

In 2006, the first State of the Gulf of Mexico Summit was held in Corpus Christi, Texas. This international event brought together leaders from science, industry, government, and non-governmental organizations to reinforce the importance of sound science supporting sustainable economic growth of this vital ecological and economic resource.

2007
2007

On Dec. 31, 2007, Dr. Furgason retired a second time. University President Flavius Killebrew named Dr. Larry McKinney, retired director of Coastal Fisheries and senior director of Aquatic Resources for the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department, as HRI's Executive Director. 

2012
2012

In 2012, with support from the Coastal Conservation Association and the Harte Research Support Foundation, HRI established the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation, the first research center for the study of sportfish in the western Gulf of Mexico.

2015
2015

After the Deepwater Horizon oil spill, HRI was selected to lead Texas OneGulf, one of two Center of Excellences in the state granted federal RESTORE Act dollars to advance research into ongoing impacts from the oil spill and other long-term issues that threaten the health and sustainability of the Gulf of Mexico.

Edward H. Harte — the man behind the mission

Ed Harte’s $46 million endowment to create the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi stands first among the many important and valuable contributions the newspaper magnate made to environmental preservation and conservation science during his lifetime.

Harte had a distinguished career in the newspaper industry, eventually serving as the long-time publisher of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times. A passion for preserving the Gulf Coast environment he made his home drove him to become a leader in conservation. Learn more about his life, career, and commitment to the environment.

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Why the Gulf of Mexico?

Why focus on the Gulf? With its diverse habitats and unique status as an economic engine producing energy and food to fuel a nation, the Gulf can be a laboratory to find the balance between economic and environmental health — a sustainable balance that benefits both us and future generations. To better understand the Gulf, let's take a look at some numbers.

615K
Unit / Item
Square Miles
Description
The Gulf of Mexico is the ninth largest body of water in the world.
15,419
Unit / Item
Marine species
Description
This biodiversity is due to the warm, subtropical waters of the Gulf.
90%
Unit / Item
of all seagrass
Description
Historically around 2,500,000 acres flank the Gulf.
4,000
Unit / Item
Miles of coastline
Description
The United States and Mexico form the Gulf’s mainland shore.
1.3B
Unit / Item
LBS of seafood
Description
More annual production than the mid-Atlantic, Chesapeake and New England, combined.
60%
Unit / Item
U.S. oyster harvest
Description
The Gulf sustainably produces more than 500 million pounds of in-shell oysters each year.
4,500
Unit / Item
Oil & Gas platforms
Description
A maze of pipeline funneling their output into the heart of USA.
50%
Unit / Item
U.S. wetland
Description
Some 5,000,000 acres can be found adjacent to the Gulf.
85%
Unit / Item
U.S. shrimp harvest
Description
There are three commercially important species in the Gulf: brown, white, and pink.
5
Unit / Item
Artificial reef programs
Description
Each Gulf state has a program to supplement the Gulf’s natural reef habitats.
50%
Unit / Item
U.S. recreational fishing
Description
Recreationally important species include: red drum, black drum, grouper, and flounder.
1
Unit / Item
National Marine Sanctuary
Description
The Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary contains the northernmost tropical coral reefs in the U.S.

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