New Center Offers Unprecedented Look at San Diego Bay


The San Diego Board of Port Commissioners has approved funding for a new interdisciplinary research center to study San Diego Bay, its watershed and San Diego's beaches and coasts. The Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics (CBCD) brings together geologists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego and ecologists from San Diego State University (SDSU) to study the complex environmental processes influencing San Diego Bay and surrounding coastal waters. The Port awarded the researchers $310,000 in funding for new state-of-the-art equipment to map the bay and additional support was secured to develop related, project-based educational programs through Birch Aquarium at Scripps.

In response to growing environmental pressures on San Diego Bay and surrounding coastal regions, researchers at Scripps and SDSU, in collaboration with the San Diego Unified Port District (SDUPD), will meld geophysical and marine biological research to conduct long-term scientific monitoring of the entire ecosystem. The new center will be housed at the SDSU Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory (CMIL) located at the old Naval Training Center in San Diego, Calif., and co-managed by both universities with input from an advisory committee comprised of representatives from all three institutions.

"I would like to acknowledge and thank the Board of Port Commissioners for their vision and support for better scientific knowledge of the local environment," said Tony Haymet, vice chancellor of marine sciences at UC San Diego and director of Scripps. "This is a direct investment in our local community and positions San Diego to continue its leadership role in the cross-disciplinary study of coastal and bay environments."

"As Chairman of the Port's Environmental Committee, I am extremely pleased with the new partnership between the Port of San Diego, Scripps Institution of Oceanography and SDSU," said Rocky Spane. "We now have the premier oceanographic research institutions in the world helping the Port of San Diego look after the premier bay in California."

The funding will allow researchers to acquire a highly coveted multibeam bathymetric scanner, a high-resolution seafloor imaging system, which can be used for bio-habitat mapping of the bay. Researchers will use this new cutting-edge technology to develop the first detailed map of biological habitats and geological features on and below San Diego Bay's seafloor to better understand the relationships among physical dynamics, habitats and marine life.

"The bay is a dynamic living thing with vibrant biological communities," said Jeff Babcock, Scripps geophysicist and co-manager of the CBCD. "This new collaboration will offer a long-term and comprehensive approach to studying the environment and how it changes over time."

Portions of the Rose Canyon fault run through the bay and offshore potentially exposing rocky seafloor habitat, which supports economically important lobster, fish and kelp communities. Detailed imagery of the bay's habitats will be an integral component to ongoing research studies on processes influencing the abundance and distribution of recreationally important fish in San Diego Bay. Researchers will also study how natural and man-made sediment transport, from tidal forces to dredging, shapes the bay over time.

Researchers hope that by collecting this scientific data, the communities that are charged with managing the bay can make better-informed decisions to protect the bay's natural environment and marine resources.

Through a generous gift of $30,000 from the Paul Peterson Family Foundation, the center will develop project-based learning opportunities for San Diego's future scientists through undergraduate and graduate research training and other educational programs at Birch Aquarium at Scripps. Researchers also anticipate the center will become a vehicle for knowledge about the bay to surrounding communities.

San Diego Bay is a natural harbor adjacent to San Diego, Calif., between the Mexico border and La Jolla. About 12 miles (19 km) long, the bay borders the cities of San Diego, National City, Chula Vista, Imperial Beach and Coronado. The Port of San Diego Commission is the agency that oversees protection and development of the Bay.

Additional Contacts

<p>SDSU Contact: Gina Speciale<br /> 619-594-4563;</p>

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