Port Aransas is the home of the first permanent marine laboratory built in Texas.
The University of Texas at Austin Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) formally was founded in 1941.
UTMSI’s main campus is located at 855 E. Cotter Ave. on 72 acres of beachfront land, at the mouth of the Aransas Pass and the shores of the Gulf of Mexico.
Research conducted at UTMSI focuses on red tide, oil spills, fish ecology and physiology, nutrient cycling, and more. The institute operates undergraduate and graduate student programs as well as education programs for the community. Probably most widely known locally is the Amos Rehabilitation Keep (ARK), which rescues and rehabilitates injured sea turtles and marine birds from San Jose and Mustang islands.
UTMSI has many educational programs for the public. Programs include self-guided tours of the Wetlands Education Center and Waterwise Wildlife Garden trails. Guided tours are available for the Wetlands Education Center on Tuesdays and Thursdays at 9 a.m. and guided tours of the Amos Rehabilitation Keep are available, by reservation only, on Wednesday and Friday at 10 a.m. Both tours begin at the trailhead, adjacent to the parking lot on 855 E. Cotter Ave. To reserve an ARK tour, visit www.utmsi. utexas.edu/visit/registration.
Week-long summer science programs are available for third through eight graders during the month of June. More information and registration can be found at www.utsummerscience.org The Patton Marine Science Education Center was closed at press time for this Visitors’ Guide and undergoing a major renovation with an anticipated opening in mid-August.
Hurricane Harvey caused significant damage to UTMSI in 2017, but the campus rebuild effort is underway. Construction is continuing on UTMSI’s research pier, visiting scientist housing, student housing, laboratory and visitor facilities.
Research is both global and local. The institute manages two large national research and education programs: the Beaufort Lagoon Ecosystems Long Term Research Program in the Arctic; and the Mission- Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve here in Texas.
The Mission-Aransas Reserve is the third-largest estuarine reserve in the United States. The Reserve monitors local estuaries and conducts the Institute’s community education programs.
In addition to these national programs, the Institute also has the Port Street campus that includes the Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory on 10 acres adjacent to the Corpus Christi Ship Channel, near the ferry landing.The Port Street campus has four large laboratories, which support research on the spawning, rearing and physiology of marine fish. It will soon be home to the Center for Coastal Ocean Science, which is currently under renovation with funding from the Economic Development Administration.
The institute’s website is www.utmsi.utexas.edu/visit.