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Harte’s Heroes Honors Artists and Authors as Champions for the Gulf

June 03, 2016

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CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas – Seven individuals who have dedicated their talents in art, writing, photography and videography to promoting the long-term sustainable use and conservation of the Gulf of Mexico were honored as recipients of the 2016 “Harte’s Heroes” Award. These “Champions for the Gulf” were recognized at a reception on Wednesday, June 1 at the Art Museum of South Texas.

Each year, the Harte Research Institute for Gulf of Mexico Studies (HRI) at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi commemorates “World Oceans Day” by recognizing individuals and groups who have demonstrated their passion for protecting and preserving the vast natural resources of the world’s ninth-largest body of water. This year’s recipients included individuals in the arts and media who have used their mediums to tell compelling stories about the importance of Gulf of Mexico conservation.

“We are very pleased to recognize those individuals with the talent and desire to translate and communicate science through art,” said Dr. Larry McKinney, HRI Executive Director. “We marvel at what they do as Harte’s Heroes. Their efforts motivate and inspire us to take action to protect what we all love and depend upon — the Gulf of Mexico.”

The book will include three book series on working lands, river systems and the Gulf of Mexico, including the Kathy and Wes Tunnell Books on the Gulf of Mexico series, named for HRI Endowed Chair of Biodiversity and Conservation Science Wes Tunnell, a past Harte’s Hero honoree.

The 2016 Champions for the Gulf are:

  • Jesse Cancelmo is an accomplished underwater photographer, author and photojournalist. His articles and photographs have appeared in numerous diving and wildlife publications. His books include “Diving Cayman Islands,” “Diving Bermuda,” “Texas Coral Reefs” and his most recent work, “Glorious Gulf of Mexico: Life Below the Blue,” published by Texas A&M Press in February 2016. Jesse is a contributing editor/photographer for Dive Training Magazine, and his photos have appeared in Texas Parks & Wildlife and other dive and wildlife magazines. He also leads group dive adventures in Gulf of Mexico and Indo-Pacific waters.
  • Henry “Hank” Compton and David A. McKee worked together on the books “Fire in the Sea: Bioluminescence and Henry Compton’s Art of the Deep” and “Fishes of the Texas Laguna Madre: A Guide for Anglers and Naturalists.”  McKee is the author of both books with illustrations provided by Compton. McKee is a retired professor of biology at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, where he taught marine biology courses for nearly 30 years. McKee, an experienced bay angler, also authored “Saltwater Fishes of Texas, a Dichotomous Key.” Compton was a career marine biologist with Texas Parks and Wildlife Department (TPWD) and worked out of the Rockport Marine Laboratory. Compton participated in some of the first TPWD research in the Gulf of Mexico, working aboard the R/V Western Gulf. Although he had no formal training as an artist, he could paint wildlife with great accuracy and attention to detail.
  • Richard “Skip” Davis, Jr. is a Visiting Scientist at the HRI and Distinguished University Professor Emeritus from the University of South Florida. He is a coastal geologist who has specialized in beaches, barrier islands and tidal inlets. Davis has authored or edited more than 20 books in sedimentary geology, the most recent is “Beaches of the Gulf Coast” with TAMU Press. Dr. Davis has been a senior Fulbright Scholar in Australia and has held visiting professorships in Denmark, Spain, Australia and New Zealand as well as Duke University and the University of North Carolina.
  • Greg Reuter, Professor of Art at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi, has been working with sculpture-making processes for over 40 years. During this time he developed unique ways of capturing textures and images from nature and molding them into sculptural forms. The bronze, iron and wood works of art allow the viewer to experience nature in a way like never before. His works are displayed at HRI and the Art Museum of South Texas.
  • Todd Richard is the owner of Baton Rouge-based Synergy Productions, Inc., a video production company specializing underwater and aerial imaging. Introduced to video during his high school years, Richard refined his skills with Cablevision of Baton Rouge and Louisiana Public Broadcasting while also freelancing for ESPN and CBS Sports. His underwater video work has showcased the unique environment of the Flower Garden Banks National Marine Sanctuary off the Texas coast.
  • Shelia Rogers is a fine art photographer and mixed media artist. Her life's work communicates the complexities and the attractions she finds in her environment, including “Oceans of Plastic,” an exhibition that used found plastic from area beaches to raise awareness of one of the most pressing consumer and environmental issues we face today — plastic in our oceans. Rogers received her Bachelors of Arts degree at the University of Texas in Austin and conducted post-graduate work at Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi. Rogers has attended several workshops with art masters around the world. She has studied abroad in France, Hungary, India, Morocco, Russia, Spain, and in the U.S. including California, New Mexico, New York, Texas and Washington.