We sat down with Frank Ernst for a chat about who he is and what it is like to be on and under the water.
Captain Frank Ernst
Position: Captain of Small Boats and Dive Safety Officer
Tell me a little bit about yourself.
I’ve always been a boating person. I grew up on water and channels in Flour Bluff, Corpus Christi. My first boat was kayak at age seven and then I got a sailboat by age ten. I started working in a marina at 13 and took a little john boat to work - the rest is history.
What you do at UTMSI and how long you’ve worked here?
I’ve been at UTMSI for 13 years. I maintain our boat fleet (13 boats) and I’m the backup captain for the Research Vessel Katy. I also take scientists, educators and students out on the boats. The other day I took a group of teachers for the Teachers on the Estuary workshop. I also get to take students on the water for their class trips, which is always fun.
What do you find most rewarding about your job?
I guess the enthusiasm of the students when we go out on a field trip – they are so into it.
What is the most interesting or surprising thing you’ve gotten to do at UTMSI?
There were so many interesting trips on the Research Vessel Longhorn. The neatest place we when was Beaufort, North Carolina for a NOAA shark survey that took us from Key West, Florida to Norfolk, Virginia. Another adventure was working Orca Basin off the coast of Louisiana that was 2000 meters deep. We were collecting mud grabs and taking measurements of salinity, temperature, dissolved oxygen around the clock. I always got the night shift. We had the ship lights on and the squid and flying fish were out there by the thousands.
What inspires you or makes you get up in the morning?
The thought of the first cup of coffee. Besides the paycheck, I also really like this job.
If you were a marine organisms what would you be and why?
I’d probably be a dolphin because they always look like they have a lot of fun.
Frank Ernst is the captain of the small boat fleet and dive safety officer at The University of Texas Marine Science Institute. He’s been working at the University since 2002 and was born in Tulsa, Oklahoma. It wasn’t long until he moved to Corpus Christi, Texas at age 3 and has been here ever since.