DATE:  January 26, 2006
CONTACT: Dr. David McKee, Professor, College of Science and Technology, (361) 825-2676; or Steve Paschal, Public Affairs, (361) 825-2336

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WHO: Dr. David McKee and 40 Students from the Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Marine Ecology Program
WHAT: 24-Hour Study of Oso Bay   
WHEN:   Friday, January 27 at noon through Saturday, January 28 at noon; Best photo/interview opportunities at noon and 4 p.m. on Friday
WHERE: Naval Air Station Bridge on Ocean Drive

Annual Study by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi Marine Ecology Class Provides Health Assessment of Oso Bay
Data gathered during 24-hour period to be compared to 17 previous years  

When students in Dr. David McKee’s marine ecology classes spend a night camping on the beach of Oso Bay to gather and study water specimens each year, it’s more than an just a class assignment. The data collected during the annual overnight ritual provides an ongoing assessment of the health of the water and the organisms within the bay.

“The data we’ve collected over the previous 17 years shows that Oso Bay is a very healthy body of water,” said McKee who will spend the night of Friday, Jan. 27 with 40 students on the beach across from the University next to the Naval Air Station Bridge on Ocean Drive. “The same kinds of organisms are represented each year in similar abundances indicating that few, if any, changes have occurred despite increasing development along the bay’s shorelines. This is good news because Oso Bay is an important nursery area for many species of fish, crabs and shrimp.”

This is the 18th consecutive year that the University’s marine ecology class has conducted a 24-hour study of Oso Bay. The students use a variety of different biological sampling gears to determine the presence and abundance of large and small fish and invertebrates. The students also measure water quality. After the results are tallied and analyzed the students are required to write an extensive research paper to describe the collections made and to compare this year with the previous 17 studies.

According to McKee, the study serves the dual purpose of monitoring the waters of Oso Bay and preparing students for their future careers as scientists.

“Quite a few of our students will go on to become field biologists employed by state or federal agencies while others will go to graduate school and will do field research,” said McKee. “In addition to knowing about different sampling gears and techniques, they will be expected to collect and analyze data and write in a technical format.”