Reporting: Rabbit Zielke
The Harte Research Institute was established by a $46 million endowment from Ed Harte to study the Gulf of Mexico. The Harte Institute combines marine biologist and geologist with economists and specialists in marine law and policy to delve into a comprehensive view of the state of the Gulf of Mexico.
Dr. Larry McKinney, Director of the Harte Marine Institute visited the Tennessee Aquarium in Chattanooga last April. Part of his lecture focused on the health of the Gulf of Mexico after the Deep Horizon oil spill of April 2010. The status of the Gulf of Mexico is impacted by more than just oil rigs. Runoff from the heartland of American ends up fouling the waters of the Gulf of Mexico.
According to the Harte Institute, over 280 trillion gallons of freshwater makes its way to the Gulf of Mexico through more than 150 different river and water systems in the United States. Runoff from agriculture and fertilizing home lawns all ends up in the Gulf of Mexico. Even prescription medications flushed into the sewer system may eventually end up polluting the waters of the Gulf
While visiting Chattanooga Dr. McKinney enjoyed the Secret Reef exhibit at the Tennessee Aquarium that was designed based on the Flower Garden Banks. Dr. McKinney also enjoyed the rivers and lakes that make this region such a beautiful place to live. The health of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary located in the Gulf of Mexico is an indicator of the overall health of the Gulf.
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