Introduction to FHL
Friday Harbor Laboratories

The Friday Harbor Laboratories

The Friday Harbor Laboratories are located on San Juan Island, part of an archipelago that lies between the mainland and Vancouver Island. The town of Friday Harbor may be reached by scheduled air service from Seattle-Tacoma International Airport, scheduled seaplane service from downtown Seattle, and by Washington State Ferries from Anacortes, about 70 miles north of Seattle.

The Laboratories are well situated for research on many aspects of marine biology and oceanography. The waters around San Juan Island are relatively free from pollution, and although the salinity is in general like that of the open ocean, there are a few estuarine situations of low salinity. There are swift tideways as well as quiet bays and lagoons. A tidal range of about 4 meters exposes diverse intertidal areas of rock, sand, and mud. The flora and fauna are exceptionally rich. Representatives of nearly all major groups of marine algae and invertebrates can be obtained by collecting at the shore, and depths down to 300 meters can be explored by dredging and other collecting techniques. Many of the organisms available are important for research in physiology, development, and ecology.

The islands of the San Juan Archipelago are generally rocky, forested, and rimmed by precipitous shores. Some are deeply cut by fjord-like inlets. The islands were strongly glaciated and have valleys with lakes, swamps, and bogs. The varied terrestrial and freshwater habitats offer a diverse flora and fauna.

The 484-acre tract of land on which the Laboratories are sited, and the marine waters of the region in general, are biological preserves. The Laboratories also control biological preserves at False Bay and Argyle Lagoon on San Juan Island, at Point George and Cedar Rock on Shaw Island, and some other areas. These preserves provide a wide range of protected terrestrial and marine environments available for short- and long-term research projects.