It’s a spring-time tradition for the scientists at Friday Harbor Labs to open their doors and allow the public to explore all the facility has to offer. The University of Washington marine research laboratory will host the community for its annual open house from 11 a.m.–4 p.m. on Saturday, May 11.
“I love every part of Friday Harbor Labs, the research, the teaching and the outreach! You’ll get to meet our students, press algae, learn about scanning fish and look at plankton,” Friday Harbor Labs Director Billie Swalla said. “I also love the free popcorn on our research vessel, the Centennial!”
During the open house, the labs will be open for self-guided tours, and community members can meet scientists and students studying at the labs. The staff and students will also be on hand to answer questions, present marine science research and provide demonstrations to the guests.
The laboratory’s 58-foot research vessel, the Centennial, will also be open for visitors to learn what tools are used in oceanographic research, view video captured by its remotely operated vehicle and explore the ship’s wheelhouse.
“It’s fun and very kid-friendly to spend a few hours here on Saturday,” Swalla said. “We’ll have a marimba band playing and so many booths and labs open.”
Friday Harbor Labs will have informational posters, marine plants and animals to observe up close, microscopes with plankton sampling and activities for visitors of all ages. Staff encourages families to attend and hope to spark a love of science in the next generation.
Friday Harbor Labs is located on a 490-acre parcel of land to the north of town. The ecological preserves maintained by the labs throughout the islands provide terrestrial and marine environments for short-term and long-term studies by both staff and student scientists year-round.
“We are a research unit of the University of Washington’s College of the Environment, and many people don’t even know that we have this world-famous marine lab on San Juan Island,” Swalla said. “Our mission is marine research, with teaching and outreach being close seconds.”
Scientist talks will be at noon, 1 p.m. and 2 p.m. in the lecture hall. At noon, Mackenzie Gerringer, Ph.D., will share about the deep-sea submersible research happening at the labs. Sebastian Kruppert, Ph.D., will talk about the poachers of the Salish Sea at 1 p.m. Southern residents research and recovery will be the topic of Deborah Giles’, Ph.D., talk at 2 p.m.
“Come and get some great party conversation for the next few years,” Swalla said. “There are so many cool things that are being done here, and people are always amazed by some of the stuff that they learn.”