OCEAN SPRINGS – More
than 70 friends of The University of Southern Mississippi's Gulf
Coast Research Laboratory joined in a celebration Saturday of 50
years' service by the R/V Hermes, the lab's oldest research vessel.
Marine biologist David Burke's lighthearted history
of the 38-foot trawler provoked laughter, and his research captured
the GCRL's early history.
"I never knew all that about the Hermes,"
said Aimee Gautier Dugger, granddaughter of Hermes Gautier, Jackson
County senator who was instrumental in securing funding for the
boat's construction. "We were all so young when the Hermes
Grandsons Warren Gautier and Hermes Quinn Gautier
Jr. of Pascagoula were at the original christening and returned
for the event Saturday.
Marie Caylor Wilson of Chesapeake, Va., daughter
of Richard L. Caylor, founding director of the GCRL, returned to
repeat the role she filled in the original christening of 1955.
She furnished a traditional bottle of champagne for today's event.
Wilson's memories of the event 50 years ago were of tea poured into
a champagne bottle provided by Jackson County Supervisor Fred Moran.
"That is probably what tickled my daddy
the most. He didn’t like alcohol in any form. But he thought
it was okay that I christened it (the Hermes) with iced tea,"
For 50 years, college students from states all along
the Mississippi and Ohio rivers have come to the GCRL and boarded
the Hermes to learn firsthand about Mississippi's marine environments
during the lab's summer field program. Former students from Mississippi
and Louisiana returned for the day's festivities that concluded
Saturday evening with a Hermes reunion reception.
Boat captains' families, former neighbors who went
out with GCRL scientists in the 1950s and GCRL retirees also attended.
"This event is important to the life of
the laboratory," said Dr. William Hawkins, executive director
of the GCRL. "In another five years, our employees with corporate
memory of our early history are likely to be retired. We can't let
our history disappear."
The GCRL is a unit of the university's College of
Science and Technology.