Gulf Coast Research Laboratory

The research vessel McIlwain

The Gulf Coast Research Laboratory (GCRL) is Mississippi’s designated marine laboratory, focusing on scientific research of the coastal and marine environment and education of future scientists. Established by the Mississippi Legislature in 1948, the purpose of GCRL is “to promote the study and knowledge of science including the natural resources of the State of Mississippi and to provide for the dissemination of research findings and specimens from the Gulf Coast area” (Miss. Code Ann. § 37-101-21). Additionally, GCRL is directed to “study all estuaries and bays deemed to be nurseries” and “may recommend the establishment of nursery grounds in the estuaries and bays if necessary to protect the state’s fishing resources” (Miss. Code Ann. § 49- 15-315). In 1996, GCRL officially became part of the University of Southern Mississippi, through which it partners with the University’s Department of Marine Science (Stennis Space Center) and Department of Biological Sciences (Long Beach) to serve the State’s scientific and academic needs relative to marine biology and oceanography.

The GCRL is the largest marine laboratory in the Gulf of Mexico. Approximately 200 scientists and support staff are employed by GCRL and conduct research in a diverse array of laboratory facilities on GCRL’s 50-acre Halstead campus and 224- acre Cedar Point site.

Research and education at GCRL is conducted through four units that support GCRL’s mission:

  • Department of Coastal Sciences
  • Center for Fisheries Research & Development
  • Marine Education Center
  • Thad Cochran Marine Aquaculture Center

Collectively, the Department and three Centers are the platform for GCRL’s scientific and educational programs. Research is focused on applied science to support not only the advancement of scientific knowledge but also sound management and conservation practices. Researchers at GCRL work closely with state and federal partners to provide scientific support for the management of marine and coastal resources.

Visit the GCRL website