Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota - Vol. 1

Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota - Vol. 1

Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota - Vol. 1

Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota - Vol. 1


This landmark scientific reference for scientists, researchers, and students of marine biology tackles the monumental task of taking a complete biodiversity inventory of the Gulf of Mexico with full biotic and biogeographic information. Presenting a comprehensive summary of knowledge of Gulf biota through 2004, the book includes seventy-seven chapters, which list more than fifteen thousand species in thirty-eight phyla or divisions and were written by 138 authors from seventy-one institutions in fourteen countries. This first volume of Gulf of Mexico Origin, Waters, and Biota, a multivolumed set edited by John W. Tunnell Jr., Darryl L. Felder, and Sylvia A. Earle, provides information on each species' habitat, biology, and geographic range, along with full references and a narrative introduction to the group, which opens each chapter.


John W. Tunnell Jr., Darryl L. Felder, and Sylvia A. Earle

Just over 50 years ago, a group of prominent marine scientists of their day agreed to begin work on a digest of existing knowledge on the Gulf of Mexico. The effort was proposed by Lionel A. Walford of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service and Waldo L. Schmitt of the U.S. National Museum of Natural History, during a meeting of the Gulf and Caribbean Fisheries Institute in Miami. Paul S. Galtsoff of the Fish and Wildlife Service agreed to coordinate the project, the magnitude of which he subsequently found far exceeded his expectations. However, 3 years of effort by 55 contributors and additional months of editing resulted in the 1954 publication of a classic reference work entitled Gulf of Mexico—Its Origin, Waters, and Marine Life as Fishery Bulletin 89, Fishery Bulletin of the Fish and Wildlife Service, volume 55 (Galtsoff 1954). The table of contents for the volume appears at the end of this foreword. On the title page of the work is an explanatory note that it was “Prepared by American scientists under the sponsorship of the Fish and Wildlife Service, United States Department of the Interior” and that the effort was “Coordinated by Paul S. Galtsoff,” who is generally indicated as the editor in bibliographic references to the volume.

For more than 50 years this reference volume—commonly referred to simply as “Bulletin 89” by hosts of marine scientists, agency personnel, and students familiar with it—has provided a benchmark on which to build. Chapters on the history of exploration, geology, meteorology, physical and chemical oceanography, biota, and pollution remain extremely valuable as reference works, some now primarily for historical context. Counted among the contributors were the most distinguished North American marine scientists of their day, and visibility for a number of them was further enhanced by the extensively cited chapters they contributed to this volume. The group included the most qualified federal agency scientists, museum curators, marine laboratory investigators, and university professors who could be assembled. It broadly represented taxonomic authorities selected to cover almost every possible biotic group, with acknowledged omission of some groups for which willing expertise could not be found.

The original Bulletin 89 was heavily slanted toward biology, reflecting the focus of that era. A page count by topic reveals 63% biology (plant and animal communities, 10%; biota, 53%), oceanography 11%, geology 9%, history 6%, pollution 4%, meteorology 2%, and the index 5% (see table of contents).

At the time of this writing, only one of the 55 original contributors remains alive. However, all the original contributors, and especially the far larger number of students they mentored, have contributed to a massive body of information on the Gulf of Mexico since 1954. In addition to this core group, a number of other workers—many now in laboratories, agencies, and university programs that did not exist 50 years ago—have made tremendous contributions to the baseline knowledge of the Gulf of Mexico since publication of the original volume.

In September 2000, Ed Harte, former owner of the Corpus Christi Caller-Times and Harte-Hanks Publishing, gave Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi (TAMU–CC) . . .

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