In 1918, not long after the Wright brothers’ first flight, Reginald Truitt was the first person to fly over Maryland and the Chesapeake Bay and discover from above that the magnificent estuary was all truly connected. It inspired him to borrow a microscope and set up a modest laboratory to study the oysters, crabs and fish that were so plentiful in the Bay. When he opened the laboratory in 1925, it would become the first publically supported marine laboratory on the East Coast.
Located on the western shore of the Chesapeake Bay, about 60 miles southeast of Washington, D.C., the laboratory sits at the mouth of the Patuxent River where it is within easy reach of the diverse aquatic and terrestrial habitats of one of the world's largest estuarine ecosystems. It is a charter member of the National Association of Marine Laboratories.
View a map of the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory campus in Solomons.
Over the decades, the Chesapeake Biological Laboratory has developed a national and international reputation for the quality of its research enterprise. By supplementing its three primary research areas—ecosystem studies and restoration science, fisheries science, and environmental chemistry and toxicology—CBL’s multi-disciplinary approach to scientific discovery and environmental problem solving sets its apart from its peers.
Ecosystem Studies and Restoration Science: Scientists here have built their research programs from a foundation of sound ecosystem science. While the laboratory’s traditional research programs strive to expand our understanding through scientific discovery, several newly-established programs focus on ecological restoration.
Fisheries Science: Fisheries science in Maryland began in the 1920s with Truitt's pioneering oyster research. Since then, our fishery scientists have contributed significantly to knowledge of the Chesapeake Bay's fished species and of the habitats and ecosystems supporting them. Current endeavors continue to emphasize the Chesapeake Bay, which also serves as a model for coastal and estuarine fisheries and ecosystems throughout the world.
Environmental Chemistry and Toxicology: Environmental chemistry here includes research in biogeochemical processes in aquatic systems and sediments, tracking of climate change relevant gases, quantifying persistent organic pollutants, emerging contaminants of concern, disinfection by-products and heavy metals. Our environmental toxicology program focuses on understanding the fate of pollutants and their effects on terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems.