The Marine Science Institute was founded in June 1970 by Bob Rutherford in response to the great concerns about the water and air resources in the San Francisco Bay Area. Water, as many were discovering, wasn't as exhaustible and indestructible as we thought. At that time, there was no link between these concerns and our educational system. As one professor stated "on a clear day they could see the Bay, but there was no way for students to get their hands wet in real water".
MSI has grown from working with 4,000 students in the first year to over 38,000 students of all ages in 2007. The hands-on educational activities which began in 1970 have expanded into three distinct programs: the original Discovery Voyage program onboard our research vessel; Shoreside programs at our San Francisco bayside beach; and Inland Voyages which use trailer-mounted aquariums to bring fish, sharks, sea stars, and other live animals into the classsroom. MSI has also created a summer Marine Camp program which has blossomed from 28 students in its first summer to over 1,000 in 2007.
MSI's original vessel, the Inland Seas, a wooden converted Army Air Corps rescue vessel built in 1944, was replaced in 1998. The new vessel, the Robert G. Brownlee, was built out of steel specifically to meet the needs of our programs and the shallow South San Francisco Bay. With a flat hull and a draft of five and a half feet, the Brownlee could easily travel throughout the South Bay to collect fish, sharks, plankton, and mud samples.
MSI is eternally grateful for the dedication of our founder, Bob Rutherford. Bob led MSI as president for twenty-eight years and remained on MSI's board until 2005. Together with his wife, Carolyn, they have enabled over half a million students to touch fish and sharks, put bay mud on their nose, and explore the San Francisco Bay Estuary.
1970 - The Discovery Voyage program began from the minds of Bob Rutherford, MSI President, and Earl Herald, Curator of the Steinhart Aquarium.
1971 - MSI began monitoring the fish populations, physical and biological trends, of the South San Francisco Bay.
1984 - MSI moved to its current two-acre site on Discovery Parkway in Redwood City.
1990 - 160,000 students participated in programs since the Institute began.
1990 - In May of 1990, a 44-foot California Gray Whale beached in Redwood Creek. MSI was able to acquire the necessary permits to bury and collect the skeleton.
1992 - The name Marine Ecological Institute changed to Marine Science Institute. In 1992, the Institute celebrated its twenty-second anniversary. It started when there was concern that the Bay was at an ecological crisis. In 1992, there was a different story as told by founder Bob Rutherford:
Today we know that we don't just have an environmental crisis on our hands; instead, we have a set of environmental values with which we must live and which we must understand if we are to survive and continue to enjoy life on this planet. To adjust to these new environmental values will require solid science education and research. The Institute has placed itself at the vanguard of science education by creating the opportunity for students to work with scientists and learn science by "doing" science. The next steps in environmental advancement must include advancements in science. For this reason the Institute celebrates its Twenty-Second Anniversary with a new logo and name: the Marine Science Institute. The adoption of this new name marks our emergence as a central player in the revitalization of science education.
1992 - Shoreside and Inland Voyage programs were created.
1992 The Classroom and Lab were built overlooking Redwood Creek.
1993 - MSI was awarded Mutual of Omaha's Wildlife Heritage Trust's Award of Excellence and heralded as a "model of success in conservation education".
1996 - Our founder, Robert Rutherford, stepped down as President, passing the torch to his son, Jeff Rutherford.
1996 - The Marine Science Center was built to be used as classroom space and to house the 44-foot California Gray Whale skeleton and the 21-foot model of the Orca whale, Willy.
1998 - The Robert G. Brownlee was put into operation in November. The 90-foot research vessel was specifically designed for MSI to be a floating classroom.
1999 - Summer Marine Camp begins with 28 campers.
2002 - MSI received new modular office space.
2003 - Marilou Seiff became Executive Director.
2005 - MSI celebrated 35 years!
2006 - The Robert G. Brownlee was reclassified as a ship-for-hire so that the general public may come onboard.
2007 - MSI's largest Marine Camp ever with 1,000 campers.