Port of San Diego and Education-Research Institutions Celebrate Partnership Creating Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics

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Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego, San Diego Unified Port District and two other world-renown research and education institutions-San Diego State University and Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute-will formalize a partnership this week establishing a research center focusing on the study of San Diego Bay.

In addition, Board of Port Commissioners member Robert J. "Rocky" Spane will be recognized for his role in establishing the Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics (CBCD).

The event will begin at 10:30 a.m., Thursday, Dec. 17, 2009, at San Diego State University's Coastal and Marine Institute Laboratory, where the center is housed. The bayside lab is located at the former Naval Training Center, 4165 Spruance Road in San Diego.

The speakers at the Thursday event will include Port Commissioners Robert "Dukie" Valderrama and Scott Peters; Stanley Moloy, Dean of San Diego State's College of Sciences; Tony Haymet, Director of Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Donald Kent, President of Hubbs-SeaWorld Research Institute.

"Respected scientists from our world-renown partner institutions are conducting cutting-edge research at the center," said Board of Port Commissioners Chairman Stephen P. Cushman. "The work of these researchers will help us better understand how our bay, the watershed and the coastal waters connect and that's going to mean we on the Board will be making wiser and smarter decisions as we consider the bay and its preservation."

The Center for Bay and Coastal Dynamics brings together geologists from Scripps Institution of Oceanography and ecologists from San Diego State University (SDSU) to study the complex environmental processes influencing San Diego Bay and surrounding coastal waters.

"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 Haymet. "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."

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, will meld geophysical and marine biological research to conduct long-term scientific monitoring of the entire ecosystem. The new center will be co-managed by both universities with input from an advisory committee comprised of representatives from all three institutions.

Cushman explained that the Port's Environmental Services Department has undertaken several projects to help protect and enhance the Bay and its environment. The Port manages San Diego Bay, which stretches about 12 miles from the tip of San Diego's Shelter Island to near the Mexican border. Through its Environmental Fund, the Port is involved in several projects focusing on improving the health of the bay.

"Rocky was instrumental in establishing the Port's Environmental Fund, he was the first chair of the Environmental Advisory Committee and he was our chief advocate for this center," Cushman said.

San Diego State University, Scripps Oceanography, and Hubbs-SeaWorld scientists are collaborating on research that includes not only the changing physical characteristics of the bay and coast, but also the study of eelgrass habitats to help better understand the abundance and distribution of fish in the bay, mapping of kelp beds and the fishes and invertebrates and the study of worms, crustaceans and mollusks that feed on seafloor sediment that will give clues into the effect of pollutants on the marine environment.

The Paul Peterson Family Foundation has provided a $30,000 gift to help pay for education programs for undergraduate and graduate research training.

In addition to training graduate and undergraduate students, the center will be a resource for project-based learning for students ranging from grades six through 12.

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