Three veteran scientists from The University of Southern Mississippi Gulf Coast Research Lab (GCRL), including Tom McIlwain, Harriet Perry and Jim Franks, recently presented the Issues + Answers Lecture “Pioneers of the Gulf” at the Mary C. O’Keefe Cultural Center for Arts and Education in Ocean Springs.
The three collectively have more than a century of experience in fisheries research in the Gulf of Mexico, and regaled the audience of approximately 350 with a bit of history, some great personal stories and impassioned pleas for conservation and additional research funding.
The trio told of the “good old days” when it was believed that the supply of seafood in the Gulf was endless and no thought was given to overfishing, and went on to explain the role they all played in the development of the fisheries management operation that exists today.
McIlwain discussed the abundant seafood catches so common when he was growing up on the Coast; Perry explained what it was like to be a female in marine research at a time when males dominated the field; and Franks shared the lessons learned from salty sea captains at the Biloxi Small Craft Harbor. The three also used photos that illustrated their presentations for the audience, which included colleagues past and present, students, friends and family, among others.
For information about the Gulf Coast Research Laboratory, online visit www.usm.edu/gcrl.