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Location and Travel Information

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The WHOI research vessel R/V Knorr docked in Woods Hole, 2003. (J. Goldstone)

Woods Hole is a small village in the town of Falmouth, Massachusetts. It lies at the extreme southwest corner of Cape Cod, near Martha's Vineyard and the Elizabeth Islands.

Woods Hole is a world center for marine, biomedical, and environmental science. Its reputation in this broad field may seem out of proportion to its small size, yet, in addition to several smaller enterprises and labs, Woods Hole contains two large private organizations (the Marine Biological Laboratory and the Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution) and two federal government facilities (the National Marine Fisheries Service and the U.S. Geological Survey). Together, these larger institutions occupy some 170 buildings, operate a dozen research vessels and collecting boats, employ more than 1,500 year-round people, and offer instruction to approximately 500 students.

Woods Hole research and education institutions include:
It is also the site of United States Coast Guard Sector Southeastern New England.

History of the Scientific Community in Woods Hole

(Adapted from "The History of the Scientific Community in Woods Hole")

The village of Woods Hole was settled more than 300 years ago. In 1871 the United States Commission of Fish and Fisheries (precursor of the National Marine Fisheries Service) set up a temporary collecting station in Woods Hole to study marine animals. A permanent laboratory was set up in the village in 1875. Soon, visiting scientists were studying local marine plants and animals, and a hatchery was organized to stock rivers with shad, salmon, and other fish.

In 1888, a second institution, the Marine Biological Laboratory (MBL), was established across the street. Its founders believed that some of the essential processes of life, such as cell division, nerve and muscle activity, and development, might be studied more easily in simple marine forms than in higher animals. For almost 90 years MBL was solely a summer institution, but since the 1970s it has housed a number of major year-round programs.

The Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) was incorporated in 1930 to study all branches of oceanography. Since much of the research was planned for the deep sea, the research vessel Atlantis was built and used from 1931 to 1964. The deep submergence vessel Alvin was built in 1964, and WHOI continues to operate both Alvin and other unmanned deep submergence vehicles, including remotely operated and autonomous underwater vehicles.

In the 1960s, the Fisheries and MBL replaced old wooden buildings with a new aquarium and modern laboratories; WHOI expanded its research programs and facilities and established a graduate education program in concert with Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). A fourth institution, the U.S. Geological Survey, headquartered its new Branch of Atlantic Marine Geology here to investigate the geology and geophysics of the Atlantic, Gulf of Mexico, and Caribbean. The Sea Education Association joined the community in 1975, and Woods Hole Research Center in 1985.

Travel Information

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Geography and Climate
Geography and climate
The temperate climate of southern New England is made more moderate in Woods Hole by the surrounding ocean. Daytime temperatures in early October average 47°F (8.3°C) at night to 65°F (18.3°C) during the day, but have ranged from 86°F (30°C) to 30°F (-1°C). Rain is also possible. Water temperatures average 64°F (18°C). Winds average 10-15 knots (5-7 mps).

Current local weather

Conference Facilities

The symposium will be held at the conference facilities of the MBL, in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. Please see "Accomodation and Facilities" for more information.

Last updated: June 4, 2010

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