Dr. Mike Wetz awarded Coastal Bend Bays Foundation Award

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Mike Wetz

CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — Dr. Mike Wetz, HRI Chair for Coastal Ecosystem Processes, was awarded the Coastal Bend Bays Foundation’s 2021 Conservation and Environmental Stewardship Award for Higher Education at the foundation’s annual banquet Thursday, November 18, 2021.

The awards are given out annually to honor professionals, educators, private citizens, businesses and nonprofits who have contributed to protecting and preserving the Coastal Bend’s natural resources.

Wetz’s expertise and research focus on phytoplankton ecology and water quality studies. His signature work has focused on the health and water quality of Baffin Bay, a popular sport fishery that was in significant decline due to excessive nutrient loads and persistent brown tide algal blooms.

Wetz became involved the Baffin Bay Watershed management project eight years ago, when poor environmental indicators led residents to become concerned about the health of Baffin Bay. Wetz led a citizen science water quality testing initiative that aimed to provide a sound scientific basis for stakeholder led restoration and management efforts.

It has since been discovered that Baffin Bay and its watershed streams exceed Texas Commission on Environmental Quality’s screening levels for chlorophyll, further evidence of nutrient pollution, and the streams are considered impaired for several water quality variables. As a result of these efforts, a Baffin Bay Stakeholder group was formed to determine how to tackle issues in Baffin Bay and the Watershed Monitoring and Management Plan crafted by the group has been included in the state's Coastal Resiliency Master Plan. Wetz co-chairs that group.