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UTMSI Bids Fond Farewell to Dr. Connie Arnold

UTMSI Bids Fond Farewell to Dr. Connie Arnold

Historical Connie ArnoldDr. Connie Arnold passed away on Saturday evening, August 5th.

We remember and honor the legacy of Dr. Connie Arnold, a visionary scientist whose profound contributions to the field of mariculture and fish biology have left an indelible mark on Texas and the world. Dr. Arnold's tenure in Port Aransas began in 1972 as the first Director of the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory, overseeing the construction of the laboratory. This establishment, under his leadership, would go on to become a cornerstone of research excellence.

In 1977, as the University of Texas Marine Science Institute (UTMSI) assumed operations of the National Marine Fisheries Service Laboratory, Dr. Arnold's leadership continued as he became a Research Program Manager and Research Scientist for UTMSI. He was promoted in 1991 to Professor, Department of Marine Science, and Associate Director for Mariculture. His steadfast commitment and expertise transformed the facility into what we now fondly refer to as the Fisheries and Mariculture Laboratory (FAML). Under his guidance, FAML grew into a global hub for research in captive spawning and larval rearing of marine fishes and crustaceans.

Connie Arnold’s groundbreaking work included the historic achievement of being the first to spawn successfully and rear red drum in captivity by controlling temperature and light conditions in fish tanks. His relentless pursuit of knowledge extended to nutrition research, where he focused on unlocking the potential of practical diet formulations for cultured marine species like the red drum and shrimp. His innovation led to the development of "nutrient dense" or "low pollution" feeds for red drum, shaping the future of sustainable aquaculture practices.

Dr. Arnold's impact was far-reaching, encompassing not only mariculture but also reproductive studies that fueled the field's growth. His dedication even led him to conduct studies of red drum spawning sites using hydrophones, revealing the rhythmic drumming associated with courtship and spawning. His discoveries in the Aransas Pass Channel illuminated the fascinating world of marine reproduction and lent invaluable insights to the Texas Parks and Wildlife Department's restocking efforts of sportfish in the region.

His accolades were many, with the receipt of the “Professional Conservationist of the Year” Award from the Texas Chapter of the American Fisheries Society in 1985, and the “Outstanding Achievement” Award from the Southern Division of the American Fisheries Society in 1988, “Researcher of the Year” award from the Texas Aquaculture Association in 1992, and a “Lifetime Achievement in Support of Texas Aquaculture” Award from the Texas Aquaculture Association in 2001. Dr. Arnold also mentored eight master’s degree students and two Ph.D. students during his tenure at UTMSI.

Dr. Arnold was bestowed with the inaugural Perry R. Bass Chair in Fisheries and Mariculture in 1998. This honor was a testament to his unparalleled contributions and their lasting impact on the scientific community.

As we remember Dr. Connie Arnold, we honor not only the scientific achievements that have shaped our understanding of marine life but also the spirit of curiosity, exploration, and innovation that defined his career. His legacy lives on through the researchers and scientists he inspired, the knowledge he shared, and the foundation he laid for the future of mariculture and fish biology.

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