Marine Education And Research Growing In South Mississippi

Marine education and research continue to thrive in South Mississippi.

The most recent examples are an expansion of Gulf Coast Research Lab in Ocean Springs and plans for a dolphin rescue and research center in Gulfport.

Youngsters interested in becoming a marine biologist have a wealth of possibilities in their own backyard.

Dr. Jay Grimes sees tremendous potential among the saltwater tanks at Cedar Point.

"We envision a center for aquatic eco system health," he said.

The first research involves raising lots of shrimp.

"The shrimp actually flow out and into the net so that they're caught. The water returns out to our retention ponds. And the shrimp will go out the front of the building," said researcher John Ogle, as he explained the harvest process.

The Cedar Point facility will harvest over a ton of shrimp a year. Retention ponds will be used to recycle the tank water.

"That's one of the big research questions we have, is how many recycles can we get out of this water," said Ogle.

That's just one question researchers hope to answer at Cedar Point.

"The next phase of our development here at Cedar Point is to construct the offices and the laboratories and those kinds of facilities we need for the scientists and the graduate students to do their work here," said Dr. Grimes.

Dolphins are at the heart of a new research center coming soon to Gulfport. The president of Marine Life has envisioned such a facility for years.

"This will be a research and conservation center where we will be able to study the dolphins and take care of the sick and injured animals," said Dr. Moby Solangi.

Dolphins are not only extremely smart, but the marine mammals are a great indicator about the overall health of a marine environment.

"So, by studying them, you can see what the environment is doing. So, that's a good biological indicator," said Dr. Solangi.

The dolphin research center will allow South Mississippi to make even more of a national splash in the area of marine education.

Dr. Solangi says construction of the three million dollar dolphin care and research center will begin soon at an undisclosed location in Gulfport. The center will partner with several universities... including USM, Mississippi State, LSU and Oklahoma State.