Who is Rachel Carson…and the MBARI Open House

On a foggy day last week, Jeff and I walked from the Potrero Rd. entrance to the Moss Landing beach, past the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) and towards Phil’s Fish Market & Eatery.

Rather large driftwood — drift LOGS, really, at Moss Landing Beach

On the way back, we decided to take the road and frontage trail, instead of walking back on the beach.  On Sandholdt Road, we noticed this ship, the Rachel Carson, at the Moss Landing Harbor.

We wondered….who is Rachel Carson?

Note: The photo does not do justice to the rather new, shiny ship.

I did not think anymore about the Rachel Carson ship — and these set of photos — until reading the “Your Town” section of today’s Monterey County Herald.  Excerpt:

The Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute will hold an open house from noon to 5PM Saturday at 7700 Sandholdt Road.

At 12:45PM, aquarium executive director Julie Packard will christen the institute’s newest ship, the R/V Rachel Carson.

Other activities include talks about the expeditions to the Gulf of California and Sargasso Sea, a tour of the labs, a look at ships and undersea robots used in the deep-sea excursions, and workshops where children can build their own remotely operated vehicles.

According to the MBARI website, the R/V Rachel Carson “will serve as a replacement for both the R/V Zephyr and R/V Point Lobos, and will be able to launch both ROVs and AUVs, as well as conduct multi-day expeditions”.

The new research vessel was named Rachel Carson in honor of the American marine biologist and conservationist.  Click here to view a better image for the R/V Rachel Carson, on the MBARI Press Room page.

Rachel Carson wrote the book Silent Spring and is credited with advancing the global environmental movement.  Excerpt from Wikipedia…

Late in the 1950s Carson turned her attention to conservation, especially environmental problems she believed were caused by synthetic pesticides. The result was Silent Spring (1962), which brought environmental concerns to an unprecedented share of the American people.

Although Silent Spring met with fierce opposition by chemical companies, it spurred a reversal in national pesticide policy, which led to a nationwide ban on DDT and other pesticides, and it inspired a grassroots environmental movement that led to the creation of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Carson was posthumously awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom by Jimmy Carter.

The open house also celebrates MBARI’s 25th anniversary.  The presentation schedule is as follows:

  • In the PACIFIC FORUM: Extending MBARI’s reach
    12:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California ~ Jenny Paduan
    12:30 Video ~ no speaker during christening of R/V Rachel Carson
    01:00 Volcanoes of the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Jenny Paduan
    01:30 Monterey Bay: A window to the world ~ Chris Scholin
    02:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea ~ Alana Sherman
    02:30 ESP around the world ~ Jim Birch
    03:00 Secrets of the Sargasso Sea (repeat) ~ Alana Sherman
    03:30 ESP around the world (repeat) ~ Jim Birch
    04:00 Exploring the Gulf of California ~ Steve Haddock
    04:30 Exploring the Gulf of California (repeat) ~ Steve Haddock
    12:15 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    01:30 Deep-sea video
    02:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    02:30 Deep-sea video
    03:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    03:30 Deep-sea video
    04:00 Mysteries of the Deep (live presentation)
    04:30 Deep-sea video

For further details, please visit the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) website.

Our trail walk back towards Potrero Road…

Foggy Moss Landing Harbor

Beach Sagewort (Artemisia pycnocephala) is the most common, California native plant, found around sand dunes. This one encircled by non-native — and aggressive — iceplants, which do not provide food or shelter to native wildlife.

Reward for lost scientific instrument!

Fish & Wildlife Service employee photo, via Wikipedia

Link to Wikipedia article on Rachel Louise Carson (May 27, 1907 – April 14, 1964)

Carson began her career as a biologist in the U.S. Bureau of Fisheries, and became a full-time nature writer in the 1950s. Her widely praised 1951 bestseller The Sea Around Us won her a U.S. National Book Award,[1] recognition as a gifted writer, and financial security. Her next book, The Edge of the Sea, and the reissued version of her first book, Under the Sea Wind, were also bestsellers. That so-called sea trilogy explores the whole of ocean life from the shores to the surface to the depths.

What Low Tide Reveals

I have walked on the beach behind the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI) building in Moss Landing many times before.

Apparently, I have never walked there during low tide as I don’t remember, or haven’t noticed these items jutting out on the beach…

Or maybe the beach just looks different during this time of the day.  Upon closer look, they appear to be old wood pilings… from a long ago pier / dock?

They looked interesting as the sun was setting, and I took more pictures, using my phone camera.

The shot above captured a bird flying by…

From this angle, it had a sort of mysterious, Stonehenge feel about it…

And from this angle, with the dog passing by, it looks like what I thought they were, the remains of a place where once there was a pier or dock area.

If you stumble upon my blog and know what happened to the pier — if that is what it is — please comment.

UPDATE: Here are comments posted here as well as on the about page, on the lost pier.  Blogs are awesome!

From http://localnomad.wordpress.com/

Hi Jane:

Yes, there used to be a pier there — I remember it from before the MBARI buildings were built and Moss Landing consisted mainly of just the harbor and old cannery buildings.

I think people used to fish off it. I don’t remember ever walking on it, because it was gated for a long time, probably to prevent accidents. I have some film of low tide at Moss Landing too — I’ll post them on Local Nomad sometime soon.

FYI you can see photos and learn some Moss Landing history by simply walking into the Moss Landing post office — it’s a little mini museum!


from Melanie of the Captain’s Inn, http://www.captainsinn.com/history.html posted on the “About” page.

Hi Jane,

I am writing in response to your curiously about the lost Moss Landing Pier.

The pier was originally put in place by the town’s namesake, Captain Charles Moss in the Mid-1800s. It was used by him for loading shipping for many years in the mid1800s, there were first tall sailing ships and later steamships.

Moss sold to the Pacific Coast Steamship Co in the late 1880s. They shipped from the pier for about 50 years.

This was followed by whaling and landing whales at the pier and its beach.

Then it became a fishing pier 1960s (you paid for access to use it) and then used by the marine research station starting in about 1980s. The harbor originally used it to hold its dredging pipes.

The pier was damaged in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake and then further ripped to sea in the ealy 90s storms.

Sometimes the ML Labs still talks about replacing the pier. All that is left is the bottom of the piers and the shore side bulkhead, bulkhead belongs to the property owned by San Jose State Univ..

Watch the waves during the next really big storm, the pier location will be the quietest portion of the waters. If you come by the Captain’s Inn bed and breakfast mid-day, I can show you a few photos of the old pier with tall sailing ships docked.

Great information learned here…all through posting this on my blog!


Update to post on February 2015:

Looking back at this post, I think the area’s history of being part of the whaling industry is why it felt haunting to me.  My reference to one of the photos having a “Stonehenge” feel seemed odd, but now makes sense since Stonehenge was a burial ground in its early history.

Thank goodness that part of our history is over, and we now have a different view of whales, especially since humans hunting whales so dramatically reduced the number of some species.

Whalefest LogoThese days, the Monterey Bay Area — a fantastic place to watch migrating whales — celebrates the whale through an annual festival, held during the month of January.

There are also marine conservation films and documentaries shown in conjunction with “Whalefest”.

The year that my grandsons and I visited, there were films shown from the Blue Ocean Film Festival.   My post Whalefest at Old Fisherman’s Wharf gives an idea of activities enjoyed by kids, if you want to take your family to the next one.  You can also visit the Whalefest Facebook page for more information.