Discover Your Island

Former Biology Professor and Son Publish Book on More Than 200 Archaeology Sites throughout Coastal Bend

May 29, 2015

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Dr. Wes Tunnell, Associate Director and Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science at the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies and retired professor of biology at Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi, and his son, Jace W. Tunnell, Director of the Mission-Aransas National Estuarine Research Reserve at University of Texas Marine Science Institute, recently published their book, “Pioneering Archaeology in the Texas Coastal Bend: The Pape Tunnell Collection,” a collection of logs, maps, notes, and pictures of more than 200 sites throughout the Coastal Bend.

Wes Tunnell’s father, John W. Tunnell accompanied his step father, Harold F. Pape, on field studies in surrounding areas and the wider Texas Coastal Bend. Working in the days before much of the development that now covers the region, Pape and Tunnell studied more than two hundred sites throughout the Coastal Bend, making meticulous collections, logs, maps, and notes of their discoveries.

Pape, who moved to Gregory, Texas, in 1927, was fascinated by the wealth of Native American artifacts along the nearby shoreline of Corpus Christi Bay and what is now called Port Bay, a southern arm of the larger Copano Bay.

The Tunnells have organized and documented their family collection and present it, along with brief biographies of the two collectors, as a survey of the state of knowledge in the late 1920s and 1930s, as well as a tribute to these two important early researchers and their body of work.

“This book is quite different than my other four with TAMU Press, which are in my career field of marine science,” Wes Tunnell said. “This one is to document a very interesting coastal history of our area, and to honor the two family members who compiled and preserved the extensive materials for others to enjoy and understand.”

“Pioneering Archaeology in the Texas Coastal Bend: The Pape Tunnell Collection” is part of the Gulf Coast Books series, sponsored by Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi and published by TAMU Press. Purchases can be made online at Amazon or TAMU Press at, or at Barnes and Noble book stores.