University Offers New Maymester Marine Science Field Camp at Laguna Madre Field Station

Published: May 22, 2013

University Offers New Maymester Marine Science Field Camp at Laguna Madre Field Station

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Eleven undergraduate students in the “Marine Science Field Camp” Maymester class collected samples of seagrass and other organisms in the Laguna Madre to get hands-on experience and to learn about the overall health of our ecosystem. 

“Seagrasses are the base of the food chain,” said Dr. Roy Lehman, Professor of Biology and Director of the Laguna Madre Field Station. “Their health is an indicator of how the entire ecosystem is doing.

Lehman added that seagrasses, plants, and phytoplankton provide food and oxygen for fish and organisms living within the ecosystem.

This is the first time Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi has offered this new two-week field camp, which runs from May 15-31. The camp includes a five-day field research expedition at the Laguna Madre Field Station.

The group, which also included two graduate students, entered waist-deep waters of the Emmord’s Seagrass Meadow where they used PVC core cylinders to dig up different types of seagrass, mud composition, and invertebrate species. Once the samples were collected, they returned to separate, weigh, and analyze their findings under the microscope.

“Coming out to the Laguna Madre Field Station gives me a good perspective of different types of habitat, other than just the beach,” said Sarah Kimbrough, a senior biology major with an emphasis in marine biology. “The seagrass beds of the Laguna Madre is a nursery where all kinds of organisms such as invertebrates, juvenile fish, and shrimp take shelter, feed, and reproduce.”

The students took data on seaweeds, plankton, and also conducted bird surveying to produce a complete biological assessment of the Texas Laguna Madre.  The group led by Lehman will develop an understanding of the diversity of coastal habitats and learn the common flora, and fauna of the area while participating in field research projects. After students return from the expedition, each will give a presentation and write a research paper on the experience.

Harris Weisz, a senior biomedical science major said, “As a whole, the Laguna Madre Field Station is a great stepping stone for students to learn all about different fields pertaining to marine science.”

Lehman said that students can apply skills learned in the classroom at the field camp.  

“Knowing the different seagrasses and having sampling skills are important if students want to have a career in this field,” said Lehman. “These are the skills students will need to pursue graduate school or get a job with an agency like Texas Parks and Wildlife Department.”