The Harte Research Institute (HRI), located at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, is dedicated to assuring an ecologically healthy and economically sustainable Gulf of Mexico. At HRI, we take science and solve problems through an interdisciplinary team that integrates science, socio-economics and policy to address the future of the Gulf on regional and international scales.  At HRI we think deeper about people and the environment.

Protecting and preserving the richness of the Gulf of Mexico’s resources has become a passion for many throughout the years.  These leaders “took the plunge” to ensure the beauty and health of the Gulf of Mexico as their legacies for the future.  In 2010, to commemorate World oceans Day on June 8, the Harte Research Institute launched “Harte’s Heroes” to honor wisdom, mentoring, and leadership of these pioneers. Our “Legends of the Gulf” serve as role models for all of us who look for ways to make the world – especially the Gulf of Mexico – a better place.

Jim Copeland, owner of Copeland's dive shop in Corpus Christi, has been a pioneer of the Gulf of Mexico by spreading his enthusiasm for scuba diving to others. He not only opened one of the first dive shops in Texas, but he also helped establish the first scuba diving certification programs in the United States. Over the past 15 years, he has supported Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi's coral reef education program through financial donations, diver training, and assistance with dive equipment for the Center for Coastal Studies research expeditions to the Mexican Caribbean. After being in operation for 52 years, Copeland's dive shop is Texas' oldest dive shop and Jim Copeland has emerged as one of the dive industry's most successful and experienced instructors.

Harley Moody captured the essence of the coral reefs through his vibrant underwater images. He indulged his passion for underwater photography only after earning degrees in math, physics, biology and a Doctorate in Veterinary Medicine. Although he first learned to dive in 1962, he took a
refresher dive course in 1995, which sparked a renewed interest in coral reef ecology. Equipped with a Nikonos underwater camera, he captured many images while assisting with Dr. Wes Tunnell's research trips to the Mexican Caribbean. Many of his photographs are now prominently displayed throughout the University, particularly in the work areas of the Harte Research Institute.