CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — At the Island University, researchers are taking a deeper dive when it comes to teaching marine science students about coral reefs.
Approximately 100 miles off the shore in the Gulf of Mexico, there is a flower garden bank which is described as a bustling underwater city.
This is a home to thriving coral habitat that offers spectacular sights of vivid marine life supported by the reef. At Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi they will be bringing the coral reef diving experience to students.
They will be able to have training opportunities and the university has employed individuals that will be teaching the students firsthand.
There will be life-sized scans of corals printed on 7 by 11-foot vinyl panels that will be affixed to the floor of the university pool. This will enhance the learning experiences for the students studying marine life.
On Wednesday the students were able to participate in this event with full scuba gear.
Austin Wilson has been studying marine science for three years now. He is very interested in sharks. He tells us coral reefs are extremely important to the shark's life.
"It's really cool to have this opportunity to study corals here at TAMUCC the flower garden bank is the closest marine sanctuary here and some of the only reefs that we have in the Gulf of Mexico so to be able to have this program here in our campus pool to study corals is a pretty cool opportunity," he said.
This new feature that will be added to the university pool will allow the students to practice monitoring the health of the coral reefs.
" We are teaching them how to measure corals, look at corals size them document them, and do that over time our goal is that they have these sorts of tools so if they do go into the workforce afterward they are already ready, " Keisha Bahr assistant professor of marine biology said.
Bahr added that this gives them the opportunity to teach in a safe controlled environment and make sure the students feel comfortable and perform at their best once they are on a research cruise.
In a release provided by TAMU-CC, it stated that this will also empower scientists and resource managers to help make informed decisions about managing, restoring, and safeguarding this precious resource for current and future generations.
Coral reefs are vital for the biodiversity of marine life, they provide coastal protection during storms, cycle carbon from the atmosphere, and sustain fisheries for economic and human well-being.
" Being able to document how healthy corals are is really valuable because our the changes that are occurring in the ocean we want to make sure that we have as many eyes in the ocean as possible so we know how our reefs are doing," Bahr said.
Losing them would be detrimental to the overall health of our planet’s interconnected ecosystem.
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