The James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory, located on the New Jersey shore at Sandy Hook, is a state-of-the-art marine research facility shared by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the State of New Jersey. Federal research at the laboratory is conducted by NOAA Fisheries.
The facility consists of two buildings: a 32,000 sq ft structure housing experimental seawater, analytical chemistry, and microbiology laboratories and, directly across the street, a renovated 35,000 sq ft Army barracks building converted into offices, conference rooms, and the Lionel A. Walford Marine Science Library. The new laboratory was completed in October 1993. Renovation of the historic 1890s army building was completed in 1994. Design of the new building and renovation of the old were carefully planned to retain the unique historical character of Fort Hancock (a historic landmark), while meeting rigorous technical standards demanded by scientists and conforming to environmental and safety requirements. NOAA leases a major portion of the facility, which is owned and operated by the State of New Jersey.
What We Do
The primary mission of the Howard Laboratory is to conduct research in ecology, leading to a better understanding of both coastal and estuarine organisms and the effects of human activities on nearshore marine populations.
Perhaps the most unique aspect of the Howard Laboratory is its state-of-the-art seawater system and the laboratories and aquaria it supports. The wet labs are designed to be exceedingly adaptable to various types of experimental designs and aquaria space needs, are capable of reproducing highly controlled environmental conditions under various water temperature and light regimes, and can provide 24-hour monitoring of experiments through integrated computer and video systems.
High quality sea water is supplied to support research aquaria in 12 laboratories, including a large, two-story 32,000 gallon research aquarium. This research tank is housed in a sound-retardant room in which daily and seasonal changes in light intensity and photoperiod, for any time of the year and for any place in the world, can be simulated. The lighting is controlled by a computer that guides 1,500 flourescent lamps, while video cameras monitor the tank from above and through viewing windows along the sides.
Lionel A. Walford Library
The Lionel A. Walford Library serves the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory. It is part of the U.S. Dept. of Commerce, NOAA, National Marine Fisheries Service, Northeast Fisheries Science Center system of information services. The Library was established in 1961 with the founding of the Sandy Hook Marine Laboratory. The original Library collection was comprised of Dr. Walford's personal papers and donated books. In 1985 the marine laboratory suffered a tragic loss when fire destroyed one of its two main buildings that housed laboratories and the entire holdings of the Walford Library. Since then the library has received donations from around the world, from other libraries and from the scientific community at large. About 90% of the new collection was received through donation.
The Library provides specialized research assistance to Laboratory scientists and works to preserve the Laboratory’s institutional history and intellectual output. Services include reference and literature searches, as well as procuring reference materials through acquisition, interlibrary loan, and direct request. To ensure the long-term preservation of the Laboratory’s institutional history and intellectual output, the Library maintains physical copies of publications, special collections relating to the Laboratory, and has dedicated considerable effort to the digitization of publications and images.
For detailed information about our collections, please visit the Collections page.
Visit or Borrow Materials
The Walford Library is open to others as a reference, but not a lending institution. It is used by environmental groups, state and local agencies, commercial and recreational fishermen, fishing industry personnel, writers of popular literature on marine life and those affiliated with our cooperating agencies. If you find an item that you would like to use from our collection, you can ask your local library to request a loan from the Walford Library through OCLC FirstSearch.
Tom Noji, Ph.D.
The Howard Marine Laboratory was preceded by NOAA Fisheries' Sandy Hook Laboratory, which began operation at Fort Hancock in 1961. It was established as a research arm of the Interior Departments's Bureau of Sport Fisheries and Wildlife, following passage of the Marine Game Fish Act in 1959, and became a regional center for research on marine game fish and the environment. In 1971, the laboratory became part of the newly formed National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration and the National Marine Fisheries Service (now NOAA Fisheries). Research expanded to include studies of ecosystem responses to toxins and other environmental degradation, focusing on the New York Bight, where inshore impacts were profound. In 1985, the Sandy Hook Laboratory was destroyed by arson. Most equipment, and a 33,000 volume fisheries library were lost. After the fire, the staff moved into trailers and old former army barracks to carry out modest experiments in limited space. In 1986-87, New Jersey was selected as the location for constructing a new facility close to the former laboratory site. At the groundbreaking ceremony in 1989, the new lab was named the James J. Howard Marine Sciences Laboratory after the late James Howard, U.S. Representative of New Jersey's 3rd District, who led the lab rebuilding effort.