Jul 19, 2024  
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog 
2023-2024 Cal State East Bay Catalog [ARCHIVED CATALOG]

Marine Science Program

Program Statement

The California State University operates the Moss Landing Marine Laboratories (MLML) at Moss Landing on Monterey Bay, California. This facility functions as a seaside extension of the campuses of seven cooperating California State Universities (East Bay, Monterey Bay, San Jose, San Francisco, Sacramento, Stanislaus, and Fresno) and offers course work in marine biology, geology, oceanography, and other marine sciences.


Since January 2000, the Laboratories have occupied new facilities in Moss Landing overlooking Monterey Bay, replacing the original laboratory demolished in the 1989 Loma Prieta earthquake. The stunning new building provides modern, up-to-date classrooms, laboratories, research facilities, library and conference room for faculty, staff and students of the consortium campuses.

MLML’s Marine Operations Center, located also in Moss Landing, facilitates oceanographic and near-shore classes and research by providing shore support. The Center houses equipment used for in-port maintenance of scientific equipment, SCUBA air compressor, shore-based radio operations, and other support needs.

The MLML maintains a collection of nautical charts and topographical maps with an emphasis on the West Coast and there is a growing collection of reprints. It also subscribes to abstracting services such as “Oceanic Abstracts” and “Aquatic Sciences and Fisheries Abstracts.” A terminal is available for computer literature searches. Close ties are maintained with libraries at Stanford’s Hopkins Marine Station, U.C. Santa Cruz, Naval Postgraduate School, San Jose State University, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute. Materials are borrowed from these agencies or further afield as the need arises. A special effort has been made to collect materials relating to Monterey Bay and Elkhorn Slough.

As a member of the Central California Oceanographic Cooperative (CENCAL), MLML operates the 135-foot Research Vessel Point Sur. The R/V Point Sur, built in 1981, is well-equipped for instructional use and research, with a trawl winch, two hydrographic winches and three laboratories, scientific equipment for sampling and oceanographic profiling, Smith-McIntyre grabs, rock dredges, and various types of coring devices. Also available is a variety of nets for bottom and midwater trawls.

The Laboratories also own and operate the 56-foot R/V John Martin and the 35-foot R/V Ed Ricketts. These boats are used for trawling, water sampling and other work near shore, and serve as diving platforms.

In addition, faculty and students at MLML utilize other University National Oceanographic Laboratory System (UNOLS) vessels when they have research requirements for larger vessels or for vessels in a different area of the world. MLML personnel have participated in cruises to Baja California, Hawaii, the Bahamas, Mexico, South America, the Arctic, and the Antarctic.

Graduate Program

A Master of Science in Marine Science degree program is offered at MLML for students from Cal State East Bay and the other consortium schools. Details of this program follow. In addition, graduate students from Cal State East Bay may take such courses at Moss Landing as are appropriate to their degree objectives, including that of an M.S. in Biological Science or an M.S. in Geology. (See the Department of Biological Sciences and Department of Earth and Environmental Sciences chapters in this catalog.) A major part of the work leading to the M.S. degree in Biological Science, particularly in the environmental biology option, or to the M.S. degree in Geology, may be completed at the Marine Laboratories. Normally, a minimum of one or two quarters enrollment for other necessary courses on the Hayward campus may also be required.

Courses Offered

Full-time coursework and research in marine sciences are offered the year around. Emphasis in instruction and research is at the upper-division undergraduate and graduate levels. The Laboratories operate on a semester system during the academic year.

A total of thirty to forty units is offered each term in marine biological and physical sciences. Contact the Cal State East Bay Department of Biological Sciences for a current list of courses for the term you wish to attend, or you can write to Moss Landing Marine Labs, 8272 Moss Landing Road, Moss Landing, CA 95039. Basic courses offered every term include marine ecology, marine science diving, graduate seminar, and selected topics in marine sciences.  See the BIOL and ENSC course prefixes in the Course Descriptions chapter in this catalog.

Nature of Instructional Program

Classes usually are small, with major emphasis upon field and laboratory instruction, and with a strong independent study or directed research component. Coursework usually is organized into large blocks of time (all day on a given day). Since field and laboratory activities are more demanding of time and energy than is usual for on-campus courses, the staff recommends that the student limit his or her academic load to twelve units. While it is possible to commute to Moss Landing for part-time work, this is not recommended because of the time and energy drain. In addition to standard course offerings, independent study (undergraduate) and graduate research and thesis work may be undertaken under supervision of staff members currently in residence.

Research Areas and Emphases at Moss Landing

Stress is upon field-oriented studies of marine and estuarine ecosystems, with physical science research concerned particularly with geological, chemical, and physical limiting factors, and biological investigations dealing with relationships of organisms to these factors. Where possible, physical and biological studies are paired to provide reciprocal benefits from a team approach and from interdisciplinary faculty sponsorship. The near-shore shallow waters of Monterey Bay, Elkhorn Slough, and the deep waters of the Monterey Submarine Canyon provide a wide diversity of habitats.

Housing in Moss Landing Area

Commercial housing (apartments, small furnished houses, rooms with or without board, etc.) is available at communities near Moss Landing (Castroville, Salinas, Watsonville, Aptos, Monterey). Short-distance commuting from these areas is necessary; thus, availability of a car or participation in a car pool usually is required.

Registration Procedures

Since MLML courses are offered on the semester system (fall and spring semesters), there are special registration procedures.

Students must complete and submit a “Space Reservation” form to MLML (available through the Cal State East Bay Department of Biological Sciences and through MLML). Permission must be given by Cal State East Bay Biological Sciences for East Bay MLML students to register online. Students must also attend the first day of classes at MLML.

Fall and spring registration for MLML courses is at the same time as Cal State East Bay’s regular fall and spring registration. Fall registration fees are paid at the same time as regular fall registration fees. Spring registration fees must be paid at the beginning of spring semester MLML classes (end of January).