Final Years of Hopkins Seaside Lab

In the Annual Report of the President for the year 1916, we find the following paragraphs, penned by then President Ray Lyman Wilbur, describing the final years of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory. From the first sentence one notices the facility has retained the name the Marine Biological Laboratory of Stanford University.

"One of the best educational assets of Stanford University its the Marine Biological Laboratory at Pacific Grove, on Monterey Bay. The unusual richness and diversity of the fauna and flora of this particular part of the California coast is well known throughout the scientific world. It is a middle point, combining features of the life of both the Alaskan and Panama coasts. With the change in the point of view of the various industries towards science, with the now insistent demand for biological facts upon which to base new plans for development, a great future is offered our laboratory. The true relationship of the life of the sea to the nourishment of man is beginning to be understood by many. The great variety of food fishes, the crabs, the clams, the seaweeds, that can be used as foods, the kelps of Monterey Bay, need the most painstaking study in order to foster them for the future as well as to make full use of them at the present time. Besides, as a center for pure biological research and a collecting ground for those specimens needed for biological teaching, this bay is unsurpassed. The session of the marine biological laboratory at Pacific Grove for the summer of 1916 has been one of the most successful in its history, only one previous session exceeding it in attendance. Fifty-three students were enrolled. The work was under the charge of Associate Professor John O. Snyder. The buildings of the laboratory and most of its equipment have been in use practically since the opening of the University twenty-five years ago. They are in bad condition and the present location of the laboratory on Lover's Point has become crowded by various business interests and by certain amusement features of the town to such an extent as to impair the usefulness of the site for instruction purposes. An informal movement is under way looking to the transfer of the laboratory to a new location on China Point where additional room and greater isolation and freedom will be possible. If this plan can be carried through it will give a new impetus to the work. In connection with the four-quarter session plan now under consideration the work of this laboratory ought to become an important adjunct to the biological departments. With the addition of certain general courses it ought to be possible to arrange for at least one-quarter’s work at Pacific Grove. In such case new buildings and renewed equipment will be necessary to effective work." (11)

Below Photograph of John Otterbein Snyder, American ichthyologist and professor of zoology at Stanford University.

And finally published in the Annual Report of the President, Stanford University, Office of the President 1917, was provided a report of the final year of the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory (i.e. Marine Biological Laboratory) and a look to the future.

"The session of the Marine Laboratory at Pacific Grove for 1917 showed an attendance of twenty-three students as against 53 for 1916, this decrease being due to a variety of causes. It is the last season in which the old buildings and equipment will be used. By the summer of 1918 the new laboratory at China Point will be in readiness. The plans for the new buildings, which are to cost approximately $25,000, provide working space and facilities of a character, which will insure the development of the biological work on Monterey Bay to the important place it should have in the University’s work of instruction. With the addition of suitable general courses in other departments it will be possible to provide at Pacific Grove for one quarter at least of work under ideal conditions." (12)

Over the twenty-five years of its being located at Point Aulon, despite various limitations, the Hopkins Seaside Laboratory supported the education of a variety of students, and the research efforts of numerous scientific investigators. In the final years, the two wood framed buildings began to deteriorate to the point that they were inadequate for use.

In 1916, through the efforts of President Ray Lyman Wilbur and the Stanford Board of Trustees, a land exchange was negotiated that secured five acres of land, one-half mile east of the Point Aulon. (13) This location being the former site of the Chinese fishing village and the shoreline property that Quock Tuck Lee once called home.


(11) Leland Stanford Junior University. Annual Report of the President, Stanford University. Office of the President. 1916.

(12) Leland Stanford Junior University. Annual Report of the President, Stanford University. Office of the President. 1917.

(13) Fisher, W. K. (1918). The New Hopkins Marine Station of Stanford University. Science. 47 (1217): 410-412.