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Down to the Sea for Science

A book entitled Down to the Sea for Science: 75 Years of Ocean Research, Education, and Exploration at the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution was published in August 2005. Written by longtime WHOI science writer and editor Vicky Cullen, Down to the Sea for Science is abundantly illustrated and offers a summary chronology of ocean science in Woods Hole beginning in 1863.

Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) has been a major player in ocean science since its founding in 1930. In 184 pages, Down to the Sea for Science not only chronicles the growth of this institution but also offers broader insights into U. S. science at sea during the twentieth century and beyond.


Chapter 1 (1863–1929) describes influential personalities and events that led to establishment of an oceanographic laboratory on the U.S. East Coast, where WHOI joined an already thriving research community in Woods Hole, Massachusetts.


Chapter 2 (1930–1939) begins with incorporation of the new institution on January 6, 1930, and describes planning and construction of the first laboratory building (still in use today) and the first research vessel, the 142-foot ketch Atlantis. It follows the early research staff gathering in Woods Hole each summer “to prosecute the study of oceanography in all its branches,” as promised in the Institution’s charter.


Science Story Lines follow six threads of research from the early days of WHOI to the present. Representing thousands of research projects conducted in various fields over the Institution’s seventy-five years, these stories discuss investigations of the Gulf Stream, air-sea interaction, and gelatinous animals (“jellies”) along with marine geology and geophysics, chemistry, and microbiology.


Chapter 3 (1940–1958) describes the Institution’s growth from a summer marine research station to a bustling year-round laboratory devoted to war-related questions ranging from investigation of marine “fouling” of ships to study of underwater explosives. It follows researchers’ return to peacetime studies and the young institution’s path toward strength in an inflationary postwar economy.


Chapter 4 (1959–1979) chronicles twenty years of astonishing growth for WHOI in a time of increasing national interest in science. New, large research vessels and a submersible take oceanographers around the world and into the deep sea for wide-ranging investigations of oceanographic phenomena. While emphasizing “wise use of the ocean,” the Institution establishes marine-policy and graduate-education programs and expands to a new campus.


Chapter 5 (1980–2005) introduces today’s Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution, a world leader in marine science. Continuing its rich tradition of excellence in research, WHOI also maintains its reputation for highly skilled marine operations and innovative development of scientific instrumentation.





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