Kesley Gibson

Kesley Gibson is a Ph.D. candidate in the Center for Sportfish Science and Conservation at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Her research focus involves migratory patterns and artificial reef habitat use of fisheries species in the northwestern Gulf of Mexico, including red snapper, king mackerel, cobia, and multiple shark species. She is a Divemaster with supplemental certifications including nitrox, rescue, full face, boat, deep, night, and drysuit diving, and appeared on the Shark Week episode The Lost Cage in 2017.

“Habitat is a crucial factor in the conservation of fisheries; so much so, that state agencies and conservation groups, like the Coastal Conservation Association and Shimano, continually fund installation of artificial reefs and the monitoring of the fish that use them,” she says. “Without appropriate habitats, the abundance of fish decline, resulting in anglers struggling to obtain the same amount of catch or targeting a different species, which may be less rewarding. Reduced catch and increased effort may inversely affect the number of anglers, leading to decreased spending in economies mostly supported by the fishing industry.”

Lily Walker

Lily Walker is a PhD student in the Coastal and Marine System Science program and works in the Coastal Ecosystem Processes lab of the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies. The goal of her dissertation research is to increase understanding of estuarine water quality and oxygen dynamics in South Texas, specifically focusing on physical and chemical drivers of dissolved oxygen. A large portion of her dissertation will investigate the possible linkages between submarine groundwater discharge and hypoxia formation in local bay systems. With continued education and research along the parallel lines of marine ecology and geochemistry, she hopes to apply skills such as ecological modeling, geospatial tools, and remote sensing to help guide specific management interventions to mitigate anthropogenic impacts on climate change.

“My PhD research is focused on the causes and symptoms of coastal water quality and habitat degradation in South Texas,” she says. “I aim to expand our understanding of the drivers and dynamics of coastal hypoxia/anoxia formation, which have negative impacts on local habitat quality and fisheries productivity. My position as a student, a CCA board member, and an angler provides a unique platform to promote activities and mindsets of environmental stewardship.”