Scientists try to help sea life during drought

Author: Mary Lee, Meteorologist, mlee@kprc.com
Published On: Jan 17 2012 05:52:52 PM CST   Updated On: Jan 17 2012 06:34:26 PM CST
GALVESTON, Texas -

Even though southeast Texas saw some rain Tuesday, the area is still in a severe drought. This drought is threatening the marine life that calls the Gulf of Mexico home.

Scientists at Texas A&M University at Galveston recently opened a new facility to study how our unique marine life can still thrive even in a drought. Researchers are hoping to keep these animals even in the worst conditions.

"I think it's one of the goals of the research center to bring to people's attention how rich a resource the Gulf of Mexico is," said Dr. Kimberly Reich, Sea Life Facility Director.

But our drought is threatening this rich resource. Salinity levels are very high because of months last year without fresh rainfall to even things out. High salinity and warm water temperatures are causing Red Tide to get even worse, which shutdown Texas' oyster season.

These extreme conditions are hurting all that live in the Gulf.

"It starts at the bottom and blossoms out, affecting everything from the bottom up," said Reich.

Researchers hope to change this. They are experimenting with large tubes where they can change the salinity, pH levels and water temperature, creating their own drought situation. Their goal is to learn exactly how to respond in extreme weather conditions to keep our unique marine life living and growing in the Gulf.

Researchers also hope by improving the ecosystem in the Gulf, local fishing and shrimping in the area will also benefit.