Hopkins Marine Station, Point Cabrillo

Hopkins Marine Station, Point Cabrillo

by | Oct 21, 2021

Hopkins Marine Station is a laboratory of Stanford University located on Point Cabrillo in Monterey Bay and adjacent to the Monterey Bay Aquarium in Pacific Grove, about 14 miles (23 km) south-southwest of Moss Landing and 1.5 miles (2.4 km) north-northwest of Monterey, California. The marine station is named after Timothy Nolan Hopkins, who in 1892 provided the funding to establish the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory on the Monterey Peninsula as part of the recently founded Stanford University. The initial purpose of the marine laboratory was primarily to encourage the study of marine biology and also to provide a place where biologists of all disciplines could work near the marine organisms found along the California coast. After a careful survey of possible sites, the laboratory was built on Point Aulon, now called Lover’s Point, in Pacific Grove. In 1917, the laboratory was moved and the name was changed to the Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University. At that time, Pacific Grove was expanding around Point Aulon and the beach and rocky intertidal below the laboratory were becoming a favorite gathering spot for local residents. The professors working at the laboratory felt that a larger, more isolated location would allow them greater control over the shoreline. Mussel Point (or Point Almeja), also known as China Point, was chosen because it was located in an undeveloped area between the communities of Monterey and Pacific Grove. The point is an erosion-resistant rock formation of the Salinian terrane that lies west of the main trace of the San Andreas Fault system with exposures at Bodega Head to the north and Mount Pinos to the south. In 1931, legislation was adopted designating the intertidal and subtidal areas around Mussel Point as the Hopkins Marine Life Refuge. In 1935, the name for Mussel Point was changed to Point Cabrillo by the U.S. Board on Geographic Names. In 2005, new legislation was enacted designating the Hopkins State Marine Reserve, specifically to prevent chemical and thermal pollution of the water, to extend the boundaries of the refuge, and to prohibit the collection of marine plants and animals without a scientific permit. Today the area is called Lover’s Point-Julia Platt State Marine Reserve.

Point Cabrillo has ancient shell middens from the Ohlone people who inhabited the area for thousands of years. In 1542, Juan Rodríguez Cabrillo was the first European to sail into Monterey Bay and the land was claimed for Spain. The land eventually became part of a Mexican land grant known as Rancho Punta de Pinos, a 2,667 acres (1,079 ha) estate given in 1833 by Governor José Figueroa to José María Armenta, and regranted to José Abrego in 1844. Following the Mexican-American War and the cessation of California to the United States in 1848, José Abrego sold Rancho Punta de Pinos, a process that would lead to David Jack becoming Monterey’s dominant landowner. David Jack was born in Scotland and emigrated to the United States during the 1849 California Gold Rush, and took to using the name David Jacks. In 1850, Jacks moved to Monterey and by 1852, he was elected Treasurer of Monterey County. He soon became involved in the settlement of Mexican land claims in the new State of California. In 1853, the Pueblo of Monterey contracted Delos Rodeyn Ashley to help legalize its title to some 30,000 acres (12,141 ha) of land on the Monterey Peninsula. Ashley was successful and billed the city for his services. When the city could not pay, he suggested the city auction some of its land. Jacks advertised the auction but only in a Santa Cruz newspaper, so the only two bidders were Ashley and Jacks, who purchased the entire tract underlying the city. In 1869, Ashley turned his interest in the land over to Jacks, who became the sole owner of what is now the cities of Monterey, Pacific Grove, Seaside, Del Rey Oaks, Pebble Beach, and Fort Ord on what is now the Monterey Bay campus of California State University. In the 1880s, Jacks sold a large tract of land between Carmel and Pacific Grove to the Pacific Improvement Company a land development enterprise originally affiliated with the Central Pacific Railroad and controlled by the railroad barons of the day Charles Crocker, Mark Hopkins, Leland Stanford, and Collis P. Huntington.

In 1853, during the abalone fishing boom, a seasonal encampment was established by Chinese fishermen in the first cove outside the city limits of Monterey, between Point Cabrillo and Point Alones referring to Black abalone. Black abalone belong to a group of plant-eating marine snails that once numbered in the millions along the California coast but are now endangered. Large piles or middens of shells indicate the Ohlone people ate abalone for thousands of years. The cove had all the requirements for a fishing village including a sheltered cove, sloping sandy beach, open ground for drying fish, and during the early years a small wharf. The wharf was built by Henry DeGraw, who was a part-owner of Rancho Punta de Pinos in the 1850s and used the wharf for unloading supplies from coastal schooners. When the abalone rush ended, the fishermen moved on to other jobs but a group of four families stayed and started a community of fishing shanties. The Point Cabrillo settlement consisted of numerous rough structures gathered around a single street with many shanties built on stilts overhanging the shoreline. The fishermen used locally built flat-bottomed boats called sampans that were either beached or tied up at the owner’s shanty. The sampan relied on a single lateen sail or was stern-sculled by a single standing fisherman, facing forward and pushing a single sweep oar. Entire families worked side by side employing fish traps, gill nets, and seines to catch rockfish, cod, halibut, flounders, tuna, mackerel, sardines, and abalone. By 1900, 200 to 800 pounds (91-363 kg) per day were sent to fishmongers in San Francisco. The Chinese fishermen were so successful that serious conflict developed with Italian-American fishermen who began to work the waters of Monterey Bay in the late 1800s. This conflict further contributed to the tension and prejudice against Monterey’s Chinese fishing community. It was the competition between Chinese and European fishermen, particularly Italians, which led to the growth of the squid fishery into a major product of Monterey Bay. As the Italian fishing community gained primacy on the bay and at the dockside, the Chinese increasingly took to fishing for squid at night since this did not conflict directly with the Italians. The Chinese used torches and pitch wood burned in wire baskets hung from the sampans to attract squid to their nets. But the Page Act of 1875 and the Chinese Exclusion Act of 1900 greatly restricted the ability of Chinese to fish and process or sell their catch. Monterey newspapers and citizens sided clearly with the non-Chinese fishermen and laborers, and some called openly for the removal of the Point Cabrillo settlement. On the night of May 16, 1906, a disastrous fire of suspicious origin swept through the Chinese shanties destroying virtually every major structure. Local regulations were quickly established prohibiting the rebuilding of the Chinese settlement. Eventually, the land was transferred to Stanford and it became the home of Hopkins Marine Station in 1916. Read more here and here. Explore more of Point Cabrillo and Monterey here:

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About the background graphic

This ‘warming stripe’ graphic is a visual representation of the change in global temperature from 1850 (top) to 2021 (bottom). Each stripe represents the average global temperature for one year. The average temperature from 1971-2000 is set as the boundary between blue and red. The color scale goes from -0.7°C to +0.7°C. The data are from the UK Met Office HadCRUT4.6 dataset. 

Credit: Professor Ed Hawkins (University of Reading). Click here for more information about the #warmingstripes.

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