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John “Wes” Tunnell loses battle with cancer

Posted: 8:03 PM, Jul 14, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-14 21:03:32-04

Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi professor in Marine ecology and biology, John "Wes" Tunnell has passed away. 

Tunnell died after a long battle with cancer. 

 He was an early orchestrator of the Harte Research Institute at Texas A&M Corpus Christi for Gulf of Mexico studies.

In response to his passing, Director of the Harte Research Institute Larry Mckinney praised him for being one of the early visionaries who made the Harte Research Institute a reality, but Wes was the one to put it all together and make it a reality, saying in a statement :

"Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, the Coastal Bend and the Gulf of Mexico owe him a debt of thanks for meeting that challenge. Wes and a small handful of dedicated colleagues stepped up when the opportunity arose to deliver on Ed’s vision. Where others may have faltered, they triumphed. All of us at HRI and beyond have reaped the benefit of that labor of love and determination."

Tunnell’s experience in Gulf studies spanned more than five decades. 

Dr. Larry McKinney, Executive Director of the Harte Research Institute, told KRIS-6 News that Tunnell was a "true scholar," with an unparalleled understanding of what the Gulf of Mexico "really means."

"It’s hard to put into words. Wes was really the heart and soul of the Harte Research Institute," McKinney said in a phone interview on Saturday.

"He spent over 50 years of his career studying the Gulf of Mexico…his grasp of how the Gulf works…is unmatched by anyone."

McKinney said Tunnell was a prolific writer who used that gift to share his vast knowledge with a wide audience.

"He took that knowledge and transmitted it so that they, too, could understand it."