Life, Legacy of Dr. John ‘Wes’ Tunnell Jr. Portrayed in HRI, KEDT documentary

By Darrell J. Pehr | Published: November 25, 2019

Life, Legacy of Dr. John ‘Wes’ Tunnell Jr. Portrayed in HRI, KEDT documentary

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — The Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and KEDT-TV will present “Remembering Wes,” a documentary honoring the life and legacy of institute founding member Dr. John "Wes" Tunnell Jr. at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Dec. 3, as a part of KEDT’s annual Day of Giving.

Tunnell, a Coastal Bend native, was a distinguished marine ecologist, writer, teacher and early faculty member at Texas A&M-Corpus Christi whose work helped to shape the lives of countless students and colleagues, as well as the campus he called home. The original documentary, which contains interviews with friends and colleagues filmed shortly after he passed away from a long battle with cancer in July 2018, explores his four-decade career on the Island Campus.

Tunnell, whose work focused primarily on coral reef ecosystems, was a Professor of Biology at A&M-Corpus Christi for more than 40 years and helped to kickstart the campus’s growing and now-distinguished marine biology program. He founded the Center for Coastal Studies at the Island University, the first dedicated research center on campus, and later the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies, where he served as its first associate director. HRI will celebrate its 20th anniversary next year.

Known for his quiet dedication to his work and caring mentorship, Tunnell taught hundreds of undergraduate students during his career and advised or co-advised more than 80 graduate students. For 32 years, he taught a celebrated Coral Reef Ecology class, taking students on two-week field trips to Veracruz or the Mexican Caribbean as part of an international teaching and research program, one of 18 classes he taught over the course of his career. He published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers, reports, and authored seven books during his career, and was the editor of two book series for Texas A&M Press.

Donations can be made toward a scholarship founded in his name by visiting the Harte Research Institute’s website.