Texas A&M University - Corpus Christi

Dr. Michael Wetz

An Outstanding Islander

Outline photo of Dr. Michael Wetz

Monitoring the Health of Our Bays

Dr. Michael Wetz believes that his research in the Gulf of Mexico has the power to affect an entire ecosystem. He says the decline in health of our local bays and estuaries are a marker for changes that are taking place around the globe.

Dr. Wetz is one of the leading Marine Biology Professors in the Department of Life Sciences, who has initiated two water quality studies in the Coastal Bend region, one in the Oso Bay, and the other in Baffin Bay. His focus is on the chemistry and harmful algal blooms in those waters.

In spring 2012, Wetz was granted more than $70,000 from the Texas General Land Office to study water quality in the Oso Bay, and to monitor the frequency and distribution of a newly discovered and potentially harmful microorganism.  Many of the water quality changes being seen in Oso Bay are consistent with changes noted in other coastal embayments worldwide.

"Using intensive data collections, we are trying to tease apart the effects of larger, global-scale environmental changes from more localized changes" said Wetz. "These changes are likely due to a combination of man’s influence on the environment, as well as from natural variability in these systems."

In January 2013, Wetz was awarded $11,500 to launch and oversee a volunteer water quality monitoring program in Baffin Bay to better understand causes behind water quality changes and, more basically, how Baffin Bay "works." The program, which is expected to begin in April, will rely on local citizens to routinely collect samples in Baffin Bay. 

Dr. Wetz's success not only impacts the Gulf, but inspires University students who plan to become future marine biologists.

"The students in my lab receive a level of training on various analytical techniques that is really second to none," said Wetz. "Furthermore, we are employing cutting-edge equipment such as buoy-based observing systems, and autonomous underwater vehicles, that few undergraduate and graduate students get to use on a regular basis."

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