The 2018 shelf-wide cruise to determine the extent of low oxygen bottom waters on the Louisiana-Texas continental shelf is dedicated to the memory of Dr. Wesley J. Tunnell, Jr. who passed away on Saturday, July 14, 2018, after a long successful and not successful battle with cancer. Wes was a founding member of the Seven and One-Half Fathom Reef research team, students of Dr. Alan H. Chaney of Texas A&I University, Kingsville, who studied a Pleistocene reef off south Padre Island as a hotspot of biodiversity. This group includes Wes, Tom Shirley, Billy Causey, Darryl Felder, Jim Davis, Don McCarty and Nancy Rabalais. I hope I have not forgotten anyone. We all continue in Gulf of Mexico and other areas of marine science, and will continue to do so, just as Wes continued in his quest for research and conservation that would benefit the whole Gulf of Mexico. I have been conducting these summer hypoxia surveys and other investigations since 1985. This summer of 2018 represents our 33rd year of studying low oxygen in the Gulf of Mexico, but not as long as I have known Wes as a leader in focusing on the health of the Gulf of Mexico. May he and the rest of us reach our Jimmy Buffet challenge of responding to the call of our mother ocean.

An article about Wes can be found at

His obituary is at

A service of Celebration of Life will be held Saturday, July 28, while we are at sea mapping the area of bottom-water hypoxia. My mind will be with Wes the entire day and always. Wes has asked that his ashes be scattered over Padre Island near the water’s edge or at Sian Kan, a favorite place in Campeche that he celebrated his love for Kathy, his bride and constant companion and those of their children. The Celebration of Life will be held on Saturday, July 28 at 11:00am at the St. John’s United Methodist Church, 5300 S. Alameda, Corpus Christi.

We were all reading Jimmy Buffet’s “A Pirate Looks at Forty” when we were 40 or 50 years old, what is a 10-year difference? I still sings true, now that we are all 20 years older.

Mother, mother ocean, I have heard you call Wanted to sail upon your waters since I was three feet tall You’ve seen it all, you’ve seen it all Watched the men who rode you switch from sails to steam And in your belly you hold the treasures few have ever seen Most of them dream, most of them dream

Yes I am a pirate, two hundred years too late The cannons don’t thunder, there’s nothing to plunder I’m an over-forty victim of fate Arriving too late, arriving too late I’ve done a bit of smuggling, I’ve run my share of grass I made enough money to buy Miami, but I pissed it away so fast Never meant to last, never meant to last

And I have been drunk now for over two weeks I passed out and I rallied and I sprung a few leaks But I got stop wishing, got to go fishing, down to rock bottom again Just a few friends, just a few friends

I go for younger women, lived with several a while Though I ran them away, they’d come back one day Still could manage to smile Just takes a while, just takes a while

Mother, mother ocean, after all the years I’ve found My occupational hazard being my occupation’s just not around I feel like I’ve drowned, gonna head uptown I feel like I’ve drowned, gonna head uptown

Songwriters: Jimmy Buffett

A Pirate Looks at Forty lyrics © Universal Music Publishing Group

Wes, if he were here (who says he is not?), would hear our strong and mutual “Thank You” for work well done, and a ‘Thank you’ at the end after the sad/regretful song lyrics. I don’t think that he would want us to do less than continue on doing the best we can.

Nancy Rabalais