Woods Hole Science Community

Blue Lobster (Homarus americanus)

Once in a blue moon, or a blue lobster if you’d prefer, geography and talent and circumstance come together to create a unique community that enriches civilization for the whole world.  Athenian philosphers, the library of Alexandria, Renaissance Italy, and England’s Oxbridge complex are all examples of intellectual communities whose brilliance illuminated the globe.  When it comes to marine research, oceanography and biological sciences, nowhere on the planet compares to Woods Hole, Massachusetts.  Snagging coffee and a pastry at Pie in the Sky Bakery and Cafe, you’re likely to be sharing the table and the morning paper with the next Nobel prize winner in medicine or chemistry.  At Wood Hole’s Marine Biological Laboratory, more than fifty Nobel laureates have studied, researched or taught.

Famous Quote Posted in the MBL Aquatic Resources Lab

Barring an unexpected rescue or marine stranding, Turtle Journal will focus its next few posts on the Woods Hole science community, introducing the wonderful resources that are offered to scientists, researchers, teachers and students to enhance marine discovery, as well as the exceptional opportunities that are available to families to explore the ocean world with hands-on fun and excitement.  We have never seen an unhappy face inside the Woods Hole Science Aquarium.


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Water Street Woods Hole

Entering the town of Woods Hole, you pass National Public Radio’s Cape and the Islands station (WCAI/WNAN) on the right and the ferry terminal on the left with departures to Martha’s Vineyard and Nantucket.  Down the main drag aptly named Water Street, you go by the Redfield Building of the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) with an auditorium used for scientific conferences and public concerts before crossing the drawbridge over Eel Pond, a legendary specimen collection site during the 19th century and a protected inner harbor today for smaller boats.  On the other side of the bridge, WHOI and Marine Biological Laboratory research buildings line both sides of Water Street.  Behind the buildings to the left, you can spot WHOI ocean research vessels like Knorr and Oceanus and Atlantis, perhaps with the famous submersible ALVIN aboard. 

Beyond the WHOI vessels on the left, you see the NOAA building that houses the Northeast Fisheries Science Center with NOAA research ships tied to its docks.  After a sharp right turn, you see the Woods Hole Science Aquarium of the NMFS, arguably one of the finest small aquariums with an admission fee of absolutely free.  Turtle Journal has traveled the globe and has never found a better aquarium for introducing marine science students to the ocean world.  Of course, we also salute the Woods Hole Science Aquarium because they have rehabilitated cold-stunned Kemp’s ridley sea turtles and have over-wintered threatened diamondback terrapin hatchlings for us, too.


Sometimes we get carried away by the world class science that happens each and every day in Woods Hole.  We forget the unbridled, child-like excitement we experience every time we visit.  Behind the scenes at Woods Hole, groundbreaking science is routine, but out front in exhibit centers and hands-on displays, this leading edge research is rendered to the public in easily accessible forms.  Ofttimes when we have toured Woods Hole with high school students, Sue runs into a colleague or acquaintance who happens to be a Nobel laureate and who invites the kids inside for an informal chat about science and research and life.  The real excitement comes on the road home, when one student quips to another, “You know, I think I could do that.”  Woods Hole has a way of demystifying “science” and making it seem accessible to everyone.

All of which brings us to one of our favorite places in Woods Hole and certainly to Don’s favorite creature, the Atlantic Wolffish, who clearly demonstrates how science and fun are the same word just spelled a little differently.

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Atlantic Wolffish Sings Blues at Woods Hole Science Aquarium

Click back to Turtle Journal soon for the next episode of our Woods Hole discovery. 

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