Bodega Marine Laboratory, Bodega Head

Bodega Marine Laboratory, Bodega Head

by | May 25, 2022

Bodega Marine Laboratory is located on Bodega Head, a prominent peninsula that partially encloses Bodega Harbor on the northwestern shore of Bodega Bay, about 10 miles (16 km) south-southeast of Jenner and 1.7 miles (2.7 km) southwest of the community of Bodega Bay, California. The headland, harbor, and bay are named after Juan Francisco de la Bodega y Quadra, who as a lieutenant in the Spanish Navy, entered the bay on the Sonora in 1775. The headland is about 4 miles (6.4 km) long and 1 mile (1.6 km) wide, and the southernmost portion dominantly consists of erosion-resistant granitic rock in the Salinian terrane. Since early Miocene time, the Salinian terrane has been detached from the North American margin and translated 186 miles (300 km) northwestward along the San Andreas fault to its present position. The terrane consists of four smaller fragments, and the Northern Salinian Block is the fragment exposed along the central-northwestern coast of California. Rocks of this region consist of Early Cretaceous granitic and metamorphic basement, overlain by Late Cretaceous to Holocene sediments. The Bodega Head peninsula represents the northernmost exposure of the granitic basement rocks, but other exposures occur at Point Reyes, Point Lobos, and McWay Falls. The granitic basement consists of quartz diorite and diorite and is intruded by numerous pegmatite dikes. These intrusive rocks are overlain by Quaternary marine terrace deposits, which were tilted towards the northeast presumably as a result of lateral slip along the San Andreas fault.

Coast Miwok are indigenous people that inhabited the coastal fringe of California between the Golden Gate and Duncans Point, a small peninsula about 5 miles (8 km) north of present-day Bodega Bay. Europeans first encountered the Coast Miwok in 1579 when Captain Francis Drake made landfall on the California coast and went ashore to repair the Golden Hind. The Bodega Bay Miwok were a band of Coast Miwok who inhabited villages around Bodega Bay including Helapattai, Hime-takala, and Ho-takala. Beginning in 1783, Franciscan mission records show that Coast Miwok from the Marin Peninsula began to join Mission San Francisco de Asis. In 1817, Mission San Rafael was founded, and by that time the only Coast Miwok people still on their land were those on the Pacific Coast from Point Reyes north to Bodega Bay. Between 1812 and 1841, the bay was used by the Russians as a harbor and often called Romanzov, in honor of the chancellor of the empire and patron of the Rurik expedition led by Otto von Kotzebue. In 1830, Kotzebue anchored here and recorded ‘Hafen Bodega oder Port Romanzov’. In 1843, Captain Stephen Smith, a sea captain from Massachusetts who frequently sailed along the Pacific Coast, saw a business opportunity with the seemingly unlimited timber growing along the shoreline and built a steam-powered sawmill at the mouth of Salmon Creek. Smith married Manuela Torres and they were later joined by her brother Manuel Torres. Bodega Bay was the nearest natural harbor, and Smith shipped lumber to San Francisco with his vessel Fayaway. In 1844, a Mexican land grant of 35,487 acres (14,360 ha) called Rancho Bodega was given by Governor Manuel Micheltorena to Stephen Smith. The land grant represented the southern half of the Russian Fort Ross claim that extended along the Pacific coast from the Russian River in the north to Estero Americano in the south. Smith purchased the buildings on the land from John Sutter, who had claimed them under his purchase of Fort Ross from the Russians. In 1845, Governor Pío Pico granted Rancho Muniz in the northern half of the former Russian claim to Manuel Torres, Smith’s brother-in-law. In 1853, a settlement called Bodega Corners was established by George Robinson on the north shore of the bay and was later renamed Bodega Bay.

Bodega Marine Laboratory is an off-campus research facility operated by the University of California at Davis. Scientists have studied the marine environment around Bodega Head since the 1920s and are attracted by the diversity and abundance of sea life. Ongoing research is addressing the impacts of climate change on the ocean and atmosphere, invasive species, oil spills and other pollutants, energy gathering systems, marine protected areas, and how changing ocean productivity affects salmon and other species at the top of the food chain. The lab was opened in 1966 and has been managed by UC Davis since 1984. The facility’s main buildings house 65 laboratories and offices for resident and visiting scientists, students, and support staff. The lab also includes classrooms, lecture halls, public education spaces, libraries, computer facilities, residence halls, and conference rooms. Large public aquaria and displays provide marine education to visitors while wet labs and seawater aquariums provide controlled environments for the study of marine and estuarine organisms. Support buildings include research greenhouses and facilities for marine algal culture and endangered salmon research. A central service facility includes buildings for diving operations support and for housing small boats, vehicles, sampling gear, and equipment. Read more here and here. Explore more of Bodega Marine Laboratory and Bodega Bay 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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