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AFSC Historical Corner:  Auke Bay Laboratory / Auke Bay Laboratories

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Early Pioneers
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Auke Bay Facility
Auke Bay Lab.  NOAA photo.

After Congress appropriated $430,000 for construction in 1958 and 1959, the Auke Bay Laboratory (ABL) was completed and occupied in 1960 under the directorship of Dr. George Harry. This new facility was situated overlooking picturesque Auke Bay, 12 miles north of Juneau, Alaska and its 14,000-square-foot building housed 50 people.

The facility initially conducted estuarine studies and supplied saltwater to laboratory aquaria. Natural freshwater experimental areas were conveniently nearby at Auke Lake and Auke Creek. Outlying field stations were soon established to geographically extend the activites of the Auke Bay Lab.

Over time, the focus of study went from those within watershed environments to those within estuarine. The general research was also shifted from the field to the Laboratory, which was being enhanced with fresh and saltwater systems and newly converted spaces for a chemistry and physiology laboratory.

By the 1970s, the facility's research and development focused on salmon ocean ranching, impacts by petroleum and other disturbances to fish habitat and population, and population assessment of herring and shrimp. In 1976, the Auke Bay Laboratory became a part of what was later called the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center. In 1978, the facility began focusing on causes underlying recruitment variability in marine ecosystems, including research on early-life stages of pink and coho salmon, herring, walleye pollock, and rockfish. The Laboratory also provided biostatistical support for salmon research within the National Marine Fisheries Service and was responsible for monitoring the Japanese fishery and their take of North American salmon, which included the establishment of the foreign salmon fishery observer program.

On 1 May 2007, Center's Auke Bay Laboratories moved into the new Ted Stevens Marine Research Institute (TSMRI) at Lena Point, Juneau Alaska.

Additional reading:

  • Simpson, R. R. 1982. Biological Research at Auke Bay Laboratory. In R. R. Mitsuoka, R. E. Pearson, L. J. Rutledge, and S. Waterman (editors), Fifty Years of Cooperation and Commitment: 1931-81, the Northwest and Alaska Fisheries Center, p. 47-54. U.S. Dep. Commer., NOAA Tech. Memo. NMFS F/NWC-34.  (.pdf, 898 KB).

Auke Bay Laboratories website

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