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50th Anniversary of Bodega Marine Laboratory

SEPTEMBER 23, 2016--50 years old and going strong. NOAA has been, and continues to be, a partner with University researchers at Bodega Marine Laboratory (BML). Back in 1956, undeveloped land stretched across a peninsula to Bodega Head.

Through the vision of Professor Cadet Hand and support of others at the University of California (UC) in Berkeley, a marine laboratory was conceived, built, and opened in 1966. The laboratory shifted its administrative and academic leadership in the mid 1980’s from UC Berkeley to UC Davis, and since then the laboratory has more than doubled in size and the research scope greatly expanded to include fields as diverse as organismal biology, coastal ecology, climate change effects and ocean acidification, toxicology, bio-engineering, physical oceanography, and biotechnology (with potential applications of nano-materials).

As evident by the 50th anniversary event this past weekend, many students, faculty, and visiting scientists have studied the shoreline habitats and conducted research at the lab since it’s modest beginnings – expanding our understanding of marine and estuarine systems along a beautiful stretch of northern California coastline with coastal scrub, marshes, mudflats, sandy beaches, and rocky intertidal. The property where the lab is located is protected as Bodega Marine Reserve, which is part of the UC Natural Reserve System. The reserve is contiguous with NOAA’s recently expanded Greater Farallones National Marine Sanctuary (GFNMS). Professor Susan Williams from BML was instrumental in providing congressional testimony about the biological significance of the Point Arena upwelling center and associated marine productivity downstream – facts that were crucial to justify extending the northern boundary of the GFNMS.

Over the years, NOAA has maintained strong ties with BML and provided real time oceanographic and weather data through a coastal ocean observing system. NOAA has also worked collaboratively with BML scientists on a variety of projects such as marine aquaculture; toxicity studies with Professor Gary Cherr and other BML colleagues for the Cosco Busan oil spill in San Francisco Bay to evaluate oil effects on Pacific herring; captive breeding programs to support recovery of the special status species such as white abalone (Haliotis sorenseni ) and salmon (Oncorhynchus); ocean acidification studies in collaboration with Professor Tessa Hill; and deployment of various types of sensors to monitor physical phenomena such as oxygen levels in sanctuary waters.

Over the past five decades, several of our NOAA staff had their career origins at BML-- as undergraduate or graduate students, or as members of BML technical and marine support staff. More recently, NOAA collaborated with UC faculty on training for conducting natural resource damage assessments in rocky intertidal habitats. Partnerships with marine laboratories such as BML are critical to the NOAA mission to protect and restore coastal resources and to help us remain a strong science-based agency well connected with current scientific research, trends, and findings.

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People milling about in a large hall.
Great Hall at Bodega Marine Laboratory. (Photo by Fred Greaves)
Aerial photo of Bodega Bay Lab.
Bodega Bay Marine Lab. (Photo by John Mackay)